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Mi 3 -Tw 

JUL 5 

C 1985 

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Authorized Edition, 




This will not be an unbroken history of the ancient 
Oriental dynasties and nations : the order of events, 
the lines of the kings, the movements and invasions of 
the peoples may be found fully related in my Ancient 
History, or in its abridged edition by Van den Berg. 
I only wish to give the readers of this book some 
impression of life under its various phases amongst 
the two most civilised nations which flourished upon 
our earth before the Greeks. I have chosen for each 
of them the epoch we know the best, and of which 
we possess the greatest number of monuments : 
for Egypt, that of Rameses II. (fourteenth century 
B.C.) ; for Assyria, that of Assurbanipal (seventh cen- 
tury). I have acted like those conscientious travellers 
who do not like to enter a new country without some 
preparation, who study its customs and language before 
they start ; then I journeyed — or at least I believed so 
— two or three thousand years back, away from our 
present era. Once there, I looked round and endea- 
voured to see as well and as much as possible. I 
walked through the streets of the city, glanced through 
the half-opened doors, peered into the shops, noted 
down the remarks of the populace that I chanced to 


overhear. Some famished masons went on strike : I 
followed them to the house of the Count of Thebes to 
see what happened. A funeral passed with a great 
clamour: I accompanied the dead man to his tomb, 
and learnt the chances of life granted to him in the 
other world. A marriage was being celebrated : I 
took advantage of the facility with which Orientals 
open their houses upon festival days to be present, at a 
distance, during the reading of the contract. When 
Pharaoh or the King of Nineveh passed by, I joined 
the loungers that followed him. to the temple, the 
palace, or the hunting- field ; where custom and 
etiquette prevented me from entering, I penetrated in 
the spirit by conversations or by the texts. I have 
read upon a clay cylinder the prayer which Assur- 
banipal addressed to Ishtar in an hour of anguish ; an 
important and loquacious £3ribe has related to me the 
travels of an Egyptian soldier in Syria ; twenty bas- 
reliefs have enabled me to be present, without personal 
danger, at the wars of the ancient world ; at the 
recruitment of its armies, at their marches, their evolu- 
tions ; have shown me by what energetic efforts 
Rameses II. triumphed over the Khita, and how 
an Assyrian general prepared to attack a city. 

I have reproduced in Assyria the majority of the 
scenes described in Egypt ; the reader, by comparing 
them together, will easily realise upon what points 
the civilisations of the two countries were alike, and in 
what respects they differed. The illustrations which 
accompany the text render this difference visible to all 
eyes. There are a great many of them, but I would 
have added to their number if I could. Our scholars, 
and even their professors, are sometimes much em- 



barrassed when they wish to picture to themselves one 
of these ancient men whose history we are relating, 
how he dressed, what he ate, the trades and arts which 
he practised. These drawings by M. Faucher-Gudin 
will teach them more on these points than any long 
description. They have been executed with remarkable 
fidelity ; it is the Egyptian and the Assyrian himself 
that they show us, and not those caricatures of Egyptians 
and Assyrians which are too often seen in our books. 

G. Maspero. 



































of a 


The Pool of Luxor 
Man of the People 
A Bastinado 
A Woman of the People 
Sandal . • • 

A Little Boy 
A Young Girl 

A Necklet for some Onions 
Some Perfume for a Necklet 
Sale of Perfumes — sale of Fi?h 
The Fish-hooks and the purchas 
Weighing the Outnou . 
The Pastrycook at Work 
The Cookshop 
The Cook roasts a Goose . 
One of the Customers in the Cookshop 
The Barber and his Customer 
A Shoemaker's Workshop . 
The Goldsmith at his Crucible 
The Carpenter making Chairs 
The Carpenter's Adze . 
Women at a Loom 
An Egyptian Citizen . 
The House of Psarou, seen from 
Pharaoh .... 
The names of Barneses II. . 
Amenophis III. and his Double 
^The Great Sphinx buried in the 
Pharaoh (Amenophis IV.) and his Escort 
The Queen in her Chariot behind Pharaoh 
Entrance to the Hypostyle Hall of the Temple of Amen at Karnak 

the Street 






































The Royal Throne 59 

The Granaries : Registering and Storing the Grain ... 61 

The Ark of Amen, borne by his Priests 64 

Offering Red Water to the god Amen 67 

The King lassoes the Sacrificial Bull 69 

The Priests throw down the Bull after the King has lassoed it . 70 

The King gives the Death Signal 70 

Cutting up the Victim 71 

The Priests bring the pieces of the Victim 71 

Before the Scribes 80 

The Manufacture of the Chariots 82 

The Wrestling Match 83 

Distribution of Weapons to the Recruits 84 

Royal Cuirass 84 

Shield 84 

War-dance of the Archers 85 

The Light Troops Marching Past 86 

The Line Infantry Marching Past 86 

Saluting the Prince \ . . .86 

The Soldiers fetching their Rations for the Campaign . . 87 

A Shairetana of the Guard 8H 

The Cattle crossing the Ford 94 

An Egyptian Villa 95 

A Vine : gathering the Fruit 97 

Pressing the Grapes 98 

The Balance for drawing Water : the Shadouf .... 99 

Fishing with a Double Harpoon 101 

Fowling with a Boomerang upon the Pond 102 

Fishing with Nets 103 

Fowling with a Net 104 

Preserving the Game in Salt 105 

The Valley of Apu 107 

Hunting in the Desert ........ 109 

The Monsters that live in the Desert . . • . . .110 

A Pillow 112 

The god Bisou 112 

The King (Amenophis IV.) and his Family throwing Golden 

Collars to the People 115 

Postures of Adoration before Pharaoh 117 

The Scribe registering the Golden Collars 117 

Slaves bearing the Jars of Wine 117 

Fsarou congratulated by his Family 118 


Anubis and the Mummy of Osiris . 

A Mummy's Head in the Coffin 

A Mummy's Head : the King Seti I., from a Photograph taken 
from the Corpse preserved in the Museum at Boulak 

Wrapping up the Mummy 

The Master of the Ceremonies reciting Prayers during the 
Swathing of the Mummy 

The Mummy finished 

The Funeral Procession : Slaves bearing Offerings 

„ „ Carriage and passage of the Chariots 

„ „ The Furniture . 

„ „ The Weapons and Jewels . 

„ „ The Mourners and the Priests 

„ „ The Catafalque followed by the friends 

„ „ The Mourners' Bark 

„ „ The Bark of the Dead 

,, „ The Friends' Boat striking the Sloop 

The Funeral : the Farewells before the Door of the Hypogeum 

The Dance of the Almahs 

The Harpist ..... 

The Sycamore of Nut 

The Judgment of the Soul at the Tribunal of Osiris 

A Syrian Fortress .... 

The Tyrian Ladders 

A Phoenician 

A Syrian from the North . 

An Egyptian Ship, Sailing and Rowing 

The Egyptian Camp before Kadesh . 

The Guard at the Gate . 

Scenes in the Egyptian Camp . 

The Spies are beaten 

Eamtses holds a Council of War 

Rameses II. in his Chariot 

The Legion of Ptah entering the Field 

The City of Kadesh ..... 

Collision of the Chariots .... 

Registry of Hands cut from the Prisoners 

Rameses II., from a photograph of the Corpse 

The Royal Sacrifice 

One of the Gates of Dur-Sarginu 

Transport of the Bull 

A. Winged Bull 







XIV /list of illustrations. 


Assyrian Houses* 201 

The Royal Palace of Dur-Sarginu (from Perrot and Chipiez) . 203 

Triumphal Gate at the Entrance to the Palace (from Place) . 204 

One of the Gates of the Harem at Dur-Sarginu (from Place) . 206 

A Bedroom in the Harem at Dur-Sarginu .... 208 

The King's Rolling Throne carried by two men . . . 200 

The Tower of the Seven Planets at Dur-Sarginu (after Place) . 213 

A Slave kneading Dough 217 

The South-west Wind : a bronze statuette .... 219 
A Scribe, from the figure restored by M. Heuzey, in the Exhi- 
bition of 1889 223 

Assyrian Cylinders vj 226 

Death and Hell . 1 243 

Chaldean Coffin in Baked Earth 244 

Round Chaldean Tomb 245 

Interior of a Chaldean Tomb - 246 

Hunting the Wild Ass 
Assurbanipal and his Suite \ 


• • • . • • aOO 

The King crosses the Stream in a Boat, the Horses swim behind 256 

Foot Soldiers blowing out their Swimming Skins . . . 257 

Crossing the River upon the Swollen Skins .... 257 

The Royal Tent 258 

The Royal Stable 258 

The King kills the Auroch with his Poignard .... 260 

The King giving thanks to the goddess Ishtar for his sport . 261 

The Dog used for hunting the Lions 264 

The King shoots an Arrow at the Lion whilst in full gallop . 265 

Death of the Lioness 265 

The Wpunded Lion 266 

The King kills the Lion with his Lance 266 

The Lion attacks the Royal Boat 267 

The Lion taken back to ihe Camp 268 

The Lion leaving its Cage 269 

Fragment of an Assyrian Embroidery, from a bas-relief repro- 
duced by Layard \ 273 

The King's Necklet 275 

An Assyrian Sword 276 

The King in his State Costume • ■ 276 

The King upon his Throne ...„••• 277 

An Elamite Nobleman 279 

Gistubar Strangling a Lion in his Arms • • 302 

An Assyrian Standard \ • \ • • . • • . 323 

Assyrian Cavalry charging 0««**«»« 324 



The Assyrian Cavalry fighting in a Mountainous Country . 325 

Elamite War- chariot 326 

Elamite Archers 327 

The City of Susa , . . 327 

The remnant of the Elamite Army thrown into the River . 329 

Death of Teumman 331 

Reception and Registration of the Heads 332 

Teumman's Head carried through the Assyrian Camp . . 333 

The Elamitt Musicians marching to meet the Assyrians . . 334 

The Assyrian General presents Ummanigas to the Elamites . 335 

Prisoners going to AssyriaV 336 

A Phoenician Galley 340 

Hf a, the Fish-god 343 

An Encounter between the Assyrians and the Inhabitants of the 

Marshes 344 

A Family of the Chaldeans taking Shelter in the Reeds . . 345 

The Towers with their extra Defences t 348 

Prisoners impaled by the Assyrians 1/ 349 

Entrenched Camp of the Assyrians ...... 350 

Three Tents in an Assyrian Camp ...... 350 

The Assyrian Slingers \y. 351 

The Archers behind their Bucklers 352 

The Siege of a City 352 

The Battering Rams opening the Breach in the Wall . . 355 

Scenes from a Siege 356 

The Assyrians felling Trees in an Enemy's Country • . 357 

A Griffon in the Egyptian style 362 

The Horses being led past 363 

A Camel anc. his Drivers ..••••»« 363 

A Prisoner being -iayad alive 367 

The King's Gu 3ts at Table 369 

Slaves bringing Fruit 370 

Slaves bringing Wine, Cakes, and Fruit 371 

The Cup-bearers taking the Wine from the Large Bowl . . 371 

The Sentinels, Cup in hand 372 

Assurbanipal drinking with the Queen in the Gardens of the 

Harem 373 





The suburbs — The mud houses — Brick-making and the construction 
of houses — The furniture of the poor — Thieves and the urban 
police — The family: the man and the handicrafts — The scribe 
and his chances of fortune — The administrative formulas — The 
woman and her household: water, bread, fuel — The children at 
home and at school : their respect for the mother. 

Those parts of Thebes which extend over the banks 
of the Nile between Luxor and Karnak present the 
dull, sordid aspect which, as a rule, belongs to the 
suburbs of a great city. They are not regularly formed 
districts, so much as a collection of grey huts, joined, 
together at every imaginable angle. Narrow, crooked 
paths wind amongst them, as though left there by 
chance, broken at intervals, by a muddy pool, from 
which the cattle drink and the women draw water 
(Fig. 1) ; by an irregular square shaded by acacias or 
sycamores ; by a piece of waste land encumbered by 
filth, for which the dogs of the neighbourhood dispute 
with hawks and vultures. Most of the houses are 
miserably built of earth or unbaked bricks, covered 
with a layer of mud. The poorest of them consist of a 



simple square cell, sometimes of two little rooms open- 
ing directly into each other, or separated by a small 
court. They are covered by a thin roof of palm-leaves 
placed side by side, which is so low that a man of 
medium height, rising incautiously, would pierce it with 
a blow from his head. The richer inhabitants have a 
solidly built ground- floor, surmounted by a terrace and 
two or three rooms, reached by a staircase placed 
against the wall of the court. The small, dark rooms 
below are used as stables for the cattle, sleeping- rooms 
for the slaves, and storerooms for the clothes and 

Fig. 1.— The Pool of Luxor. 

household provisions ; the family live in the upper 
story. The roofs and floors are made of the trunks 
of palm-trees, simply split in two lengthwise and laid 
side by side, a bed of beaten earth being then spread 
over them. 

Rain is rare in Upper Egypt, but once or twice in 
a century the heaven opens its cataracts, and absolute 
waterspouts pour for eight or ten hours upon the 
plain of Thebes. The slightly thatched roofs are 
perforated and broken in a few minutes, the terraces 
give way and fall into the lower story, the walls 
become diluted and flow away in muddy rivulets ; 


where populous districts were seen in the morning, 
uneven heaps of black paste are found in the evening, 
with broken beams and pieces of half-melted walls 
projecting here and there from the mud. Elsewhere 
such a catastrophe would entail utter ruin ; here one 
or two weeks of labour suffice to repair it all. As 
soon as the rain has ceased, the whole population — 
men, women, and children — exert themselves, and 
hasten to draw from the rubbish the wood, provisions, 
and utensils that have resisted the inundation, then 
from the diluted mud of the old buildings they make 
new huts, which the sun quickly dries and cracks in 
all directions. Two days later no traces of the accident 

Fig. 2. — Brick making. 

A little more time and labour are required to re- 
build the houses of the better classes. Two or three 
labourers go down into the nearest pool, and collect 
pailsful of mud from the bottom, heap it upon the 
bank, knead it, mix it with gravel and finely chopped 
straw, and press it into wooden moulds, which an 
assistant carries away and empties out into the sun- 
shine. In a few hours the bricks are ready for use, 
and the building is commenced (Fig. 2). No one 
thinks of clearing the ground or of digging founda- 
tions ; the people are satisfied with levelling the 
rubbish, and placing the first bricks loosely upon the 
kind of bed they have thus prepared. A fortnight 
later the ground-floor is closed and roofed in,, the 


family re-enter the dwelling with their cattle, and 
live in it whilst the upper story is being completed. 
The new house is exactly like the old one, only it is 
built upon a higher level. Whenever an accident 
forces the landowners to rebuild their houses, the soil 
is raised several feet, and the district, as though 
upheaved by a perpetual movement, rises above the 
level of the surrounding plain. At the end of some 
centuries it is perched upon a regular mound, which 
contains the accumulated remains of all the former 

There is no furniture, or at least very little, in the 
homes of the smaller folk. No seats or beds, but a few 
very low stools, some mats of rush or of fibres of the 
palm, with curved edges, provided with sharp prickles 
to keep off the scorpions and protect the sleepers from 
their attacks ; one or two wooden chests for the linen ; 
some large flat stones for grinding the corn ; in one 
corner a bin made of beaten earth, which contains the 
corn, oil, and provisions ; some tin pots, saucepans, and 
bowls ; lastly, against one of the walls stands a small 
figure of a god, in enamelled stone, wood, or bronze — a 
kind of domestic fetish, to which a short worship is 
offered, and which drives away evil spirits or venomous 
beasts. The hearth is usually placed near the back 
wall; a hole is left in the roof just above it, through 
which the smoke escapes. It is a serious business to 
procure fire if no one in the neighbourhood has a light 
or will give one ; it is then necessary to strike two 
pieces of flint together until a spark is obtained, which 
sets light to a heap of dry leaves or fibres prepared 
beforehand. The women, therefore, always leave some 
fuel smouldering beneath the ashes, which can be easily 
fanned by the hand or revived by the breath. The 
fire is regularly extinguished once in every year, upon 
the Feast of the Dead, or again when any member of 
the family dies ; the new flame is then kindled by 
means of a spark from the sacred fire, borrowed from 


the nearest temple. Furniture, utensils, linen, pro- 
visions, tools, everything that the house contains, is of 
so little value that most people leave the door open 
night and day, even if they absent themselves for a 
long time : their poverty defies theft. Those who have 
something to lose guard their properly by large wooden 
locks and bolts, which they secure by a little mud, 
sealed with a stamp. To break a seal is a crime se- 
verely punished, but fear of the punishment does not 
always keep evildoers away. On the first of the last 
Epiphi, Nsisouamon was robbed by a band of thieves 
who are still undetected, but he suspects that ihey 
came from the workyard of the master-mason, Nakht- 
mout. They entered his house whilst be was at his 
business, and took from it two large household loaves, 
as well as three votive cakes, which were piled in a 
corner; then perceiving the flasks of scented oil, which 
they could not easily dispose of, they broke them, 
pouring the contents out upon the floor from pure 
malice. They then attacked the bin, and took two pots 
of the fruit of the jujube- tree. When Nsisouamon 
returned home in the evening he discovered the theft, 
made a formal complaint, and left it to the police to 
detect and punish the culprits. But he reckoned, so 
they say, without his host. The captain of the Libyan 
soldiers, the Maaziou, who is entrusted with the super- 
vision of the district, has married Nakhtmout's sister 
and feels no inclination to quarrel with his brother-in- 
law. The robbers, sure of their impunity, determined 
to punish Nsisouamon for having dared to complain. 
The 13th Epiphi is a day of solemn festival in honour 
of the deceased Pharaoh, Amenophis III. ; the work- 
shops were closed, the shops shut, the workpeople had 
a general holiday, and Nsisouamon took advantage of 
his leisure to pass the afternoon with his father. The 
scoundrels entered his shop and stole three great loaves, 
eight cakes, and a plateful of macaroons ; they then 
poured the palm brandy intotha beer tomake it turn sour. 


The poor man is ruined, and heaven only knows what 
would have become of him if his masters had not come 
to his assistance, and out of their own money refunded 
to him all that he had lost. 

Although polygamy is authorised by law, the men 
of the lower classes and the small tradespeople have 
only one wife, who is frequently their own sister or one 
of their nearest relations. The family is very united, 
but the husband rarely stays at home during the day ; 
his trade necessitates his absence. He leaves very early 
in the morning, at sunrise, barefooted, 
bareheaded, or merely wearing an old 
felt cap which tightly fits his skull, 
his only garment a pair of cotton 
drawers which scarcely fall below his 
hips (Fig. 3). He carries his food 
with him — two cakes of dhoura, baked 
under the ashes, one or two onions, 
sometimes a little oil in which to dip 
his bread, sometimes a morsel of dried 
fish. Towards noon the work stops 
for an hour or two, which is used for 
eating and sleeping ; it ceases entirely 
Fig. 3.— Man of the at SU nset. Each trade has its disad- 
vantages, which the poet enumerates 
in the following lines : — ' I have seen the blacksmith 
at his work in the heat of his forge ; he has the fingers 
of a crocodile^ and is black as fishspawn. The artisans 
of all kinds that handle the chisel, have they more rest 
than the peasant ? Their fields are the wood they 
shape, their profession is the metal ; even in the night 
they are called, and they work again after their labour 
of the day ; even in the night their house is lighted up 
and they are awake. The stonemason seeks his work 
in every kind of hard stone. When he has completed 
his orders and his hands are tired, does he rest ? He 
must be in the workyard at sunrise, even if his knees 
and spine break with his toil. The barber shaves even 


in the night ; to be able to eat, to be able to lie down, 
he must go from district to district searching for cus- 
tomers ; he must overwork himself, as well as his two 
hands, to fill his belly : thus the honey is eaten only 
by those who make it. The dyer, his fingers stink with 
the odour of decayed fish, his two eyes ache with weari- 
ness, his hand never ceases renewing pieces of stuff, 
until he detests the sight of stuff. The shoemaker is 
very miserable, and is for ever complaining ; his health 
is like that of a dead fish, and he has nothing to eat but 
his leather.' 

The wages, so laboriously earned, just suffice to 
maintain the family. They are usually paid in kind — 
a few bushels of corn, measured by a parsimonious 
hand, a few measures of oil, some salt provisions, and, 
on festival days, one or two jars of wine or beer. The 
overseers bear a stick as their insignia, and use it 
freely. ' Man has a back/ says the proverb, ' and 
only obeys when it is beaten/ It was the stick that 
built the Pyramids, dug out the canals, won victories 
for the conquering Pharaohs ; it is now building the 
temple of Amen, and aids the artisans of every trade 
to manufacture the linen, jewels, and valuable fur- 
niture which constitute the wealth of Egypt, and for 
which foreigners compete at high prices in the markets 
of Asia, Africa, and distant Europe. It has, therefore, 
entered so completely into the daily life of the people, 
that it is looked upon as an inevitable evil. Small and 
great, all are equal before it, from Pharaoh's minister 
to the least of his slaves ; and it is a phenomenon 
worthy of admiration and of quotation in an epitaph, 
if any one, even of the nobility, have lived all the 
years of his life ' without being once beaten before a 
magistrate ' (Fig. 4). The workman, resigned before- 
hand, patiently labours under the rod that threatens 
him, with intelligence, even with gaiety. His mind is 
naturally lively and his repartee quick ; he instinc- 
tively seizes the pleasant side of things, and knows 



how to give a piquant turn to his slightest witticisms. 
The smallest incident in the day's work — an awkward 
apprentice cutting his finger, a comrade sleeping over 
his task whom the overseer lashes to awaken him, an 
ass suddenly braying in the quiet street outside — any- 
thing serves as a pretext for amusement : laughter 
breaks the silence, then tongues chatter, scoffs and 
merry jokes pass round, the stick vainly interferes, at 
least an hour elapses before quiet is re-established. 

The writer, the scribe, escapes these discomforts, 
at least so he boasts. ' There is nothing like being a 

rxucKsv.^^ 1 "' 

Fig -4. — The Bastiuado. 

scribe/ the wise say ; ' the scribe gets all that is upon 
the earth.' But we must not be dazzled by this asser- 
tion, or always expect those who boast of learning to be 
skilful authors in verse or prose — wealthy, influential 
personages. 1$g doubt there are some scribes of very 
high rank. Prince Amenhiounamif, the eldest son of 
Pharaoh, the designated successor to the throne, and 
his brothers are all scribes. Nakhtminou, the here- 
ditary lord of Akhmim, is a scribe ; so is also Baknik- 
honsou, the high priest of Theban Amen, and the 
greatest religious dignitary of the kingdom. But so are 
Thotimhabi, whom the architect Amenmosou employs 
to register the workmen in the building-yard every 


morning ; Hori, who passes his days in counting heads 
of cattle and entering the numbers in his books ; 
Ramisou, the keeper of the accounts to the master- 
carpenter Tinro ; Nofirronpit, who runs about drawing 
up petitions or writing notes for illiterate people who 
require such aid — these are all scribes, and they bear the 
same title as the son of the sovereign or the most powerful 
barons of the kingdom. The scribe is simply a man 
who knows how to read and write, to draw up admi- 
nistrative formulas, and to calculate interest. The 
instruction which he has received is a necessary com- 
plement of his position if he belongs to a good family, 
whilst if he be poor it enables him to obtain a lucrative 
situation in the administrarion or at the house of a 
wealthy personage. 

There is, therefore, no sacrifice which the smaller 
folk deem too great, if it enables them to give their 
sons the acquirement!: which may raise them above the 
common people, or at least ensure a less miserable fate. 
If one of them, in his infancy, displays any intelligence, 
they send him, when about six or eight years old, to 
the district school, where an old pedagogue teaches 
him the rudiments of reading, writing, and arithmetic. 
Towards ten or twelve years old, they withdraw him 
from the care of this first teacher and apprentice him 
to a scribe in some office, who undertakes to make him 
a learned scribe. The child accompanies his master to 
the office or workyard, and there passes entire months 
in copying letters, circulars, legal documents, or ac- 
counts, which he does not at first understand, but 
which he faithfully remembers. There are books for 
his use full of copies taken from well-known authors, 
which he studies perpetually. If he requires a brief, 
precise report, this is how Ennana worded one of 
his : — ' I reached Elephantine, and accomplished my 
mission. I reviewed the infantry and the chariot 
soldiers from the temples, as well as the servants and 


subordinates who are in the houses of Pharaoh's 
1. h. s.* officials. As my journey is for the purpose 
of making* a report in the presence of his Majesty, 
1. h. s., the course of my business is as rapid as that 
of the Nile ; you need not, therefore, feel anxious 
about me.' There is not a superfluous word. If, on 
the other hand, a petition in a poetical style be 
required, see how Pentoirit asked for a holiday. * My 
heart has left me, it is travelling and does not know 
how to return, it sees Memphis and hastens there. 
Would that I were in its place. I remain here, busy 
following my heart, which endeavours to draw me 
towards Memphis. I have no work in hand, my heart 
is tormented. May it please the god Ptah to lead me 
to Memphis, and do thou grant that I may be seen 
walking there. I am at leisure, my heart is watching, 
my heart is no longer in my bosom, languor has seized 
my limbs ; my eye is dim, my ear hardened, my voice 
feeble, it is a failure of all my strength. I pray thee 
remedy all this/ 

The pupil copies and recopies, the master inserts 
forgotten words, corrects the faults of spelling, and 
draws on the margin the signs or groups unskilfully 
traced. When the book is duly finished and the ap- 
prentice can write all the formulas from memory, 
portions of phrases are detached from them, which he 
must join together, so as to combine new formulas; the 
master then entrusts him with the composition of a few 
letters, gradually increasing the number and adding to 
the difficulties. As soon as he has fairly mastered the 
ordinary daily routine his education is ended, and an 
unimportant post is sought for. He obtains it and 
then marries, becoming the head of a family, some- 
times before he is twenty years old ; he has no further 
ambition, but is content to vegetate quietly in the ob- 

* L. h. s. is the abbreviation of the words life, health, strength (in 
Egyptian, onkhou, ouza, sonbou), always placed as a wish after the 
name and titles of Pharaoh, 



scure circle where fate has thrown him. His children 
will follow in the path that he has traced for them, and 
their children after them ; in certain administrations 
there are whole dynasties of scribes, the members of 
one family having succeeded to the same posts for a 
century or more. Sometimes one of them, more in- 
telligent or more ambitious than the others, makes an 
effort to rise above the usual mediocrity ; his good 
writing, happy choice of words, activity, obligingness, 
and honesty — perhaps, on the other hand, his prudent 
dishonesty — attract the attention of his superiors and 
secure his advancement. Cases have been seen of the 
son of a peasant or of a poor citizen, commencing by 
booking the delivery of bread or vegetables in some 
provincial office, and ending, after a long and indus- 
trious career, by governing one half of Egypt. The 
rooms of his barns overflow with corn ; his storehouses 
are full of gold, valuable stuffs, and precious vases; his 
stable ' multiplies the backs ' of his oxen, and the son 
of his first protector dare only approach him with bis 
face bent to the ground, dragging himself upon his 

The Egyptian woman of the lower and middle 
classes is more respected and more 
independent than any other woman in 
the world. As a daughter, she in- 
herits from her parents an equal share 
with her brothers ; as a wife, she is 
the real mistress of the house, nibit 
pi, her husband being, so to speak, 
merely her privileged guest. She goes 
and comes as she likes, talks to whom 
she pleases without any one being able 
to question her actions, goes amongst 
men with an uncovered face, a rule 
quite opposed to the habits of the 
Syrian women, who are always more of tte P^o l™^ 
or less strictly veiled. She is dressed 



in a short smock-frock, very narrow and clinging to her 
body ; it only reaches her ankles and leaves the upper 
part of the bosom uncovered, being held in place by 
braces over the shoulders (Fig. 5). The forehead, chin, 
and breasts are covered with delicate and indelible 
tattooing, the lips are rouged, the eyes surrounded by 
a black band, which is lengthened on the temples al- 
most to the hair. The powder used for this adornment is 
a mixture of antimony and finely powdered charcoal, 
which heightens the whiteness of the complexion, gives 
brilliancy to the eyes, and protects them from ophthal- 
mia ; the use of it is hygienically beneficial and coquetry 

Fig. 6.— Sandal. 

Fig. 7. -Collar. 

also finds it advantageous. The hair, greased, oiled, 
and sometimes dyed blue, falls upon the shoulders and 
neck in very fine tresses, which terminate in balls of 
earth ; since ^his arrangement requires several hours' 
work to complete it properly, the hair is not often 
dressed, once in every ten or twelve days, once a month, 
or even less frequently. The feet, arms, and neck are 
bare, but on festival days a pair of sandals, made of 
papyrus-leaves or of leather (Fig. 6), glass bracelets on 
the wrists and ankles, a large collar of beads or of tubes 
of enamelled faience (Fig. 7), a fillet, and a flower on the 
forehead, complete the costume and correct the too 
great simplicity of ordinary days. 

In truth, the woman is the mainspring that keeps 


the whole household in movement. She rises at day- 
break, lights the fire, distributes the bread for the day, 
sends the men to the workshop, the cattle to pasture 
under the care of the smallest boys and of the girls, 
then, once rid of her family, she goes out in her turn 
to the watar supply. She descends to the river, canal, 
or nearest pool, exchanges with her friends the news 
of the night, washes, as she chats, her feet, hands, and 
body, fills her jar, and slowly reascends to her home, 
her loins bent, her chest forward, her neck straightened 
by the weight. As soon as she reaches the house she 
changes her trade of water-carrier for that of baker. 
She scatters a few handfuls of grain upon an oblong 
stone, which has a slightly concave slanting surface, 
and then crushes them with a smaller stone, shaped 
like a pestle, which she damps from time to time. For 
an hour or more she labours with arms, shoulders, loins, 
the whole body ; the effort is great, the result very 
mediocre. The flour, several times repassed over the 
mortar, is uneven, rough, mixed with bran and whole 
grain, which have escaped from the grinding, dust, and 
splinters of stone. Such as it is the housewife kneads 
it with a little water, mixes with it, by way of leaven, a 
piece of stale paste kept from the previous day, and 
makes it into round cakes, as thick as a thumb and 
about six inches in diameter, which she spreads upon 
flat stones and covers with hot ashes. Wood is too 
rare and too dear for her to procure ; she, therefore, 
replaces it by a fuel of her own manufacture. The 
dung of her live stock, with that of asses, oxen, and 
sheep collected by the children from outside, is vigor- 
ously stirred like an ordinary paste, and she then forms 
it into clods or bricks, which she stands against the 
outer walls of the house or places in the court, so that 
they may dry in the sun. This doubtful substance 
burns slowly, almost without smoke, with a light flame 
and a fairly strong smell of ammonia ; it gives out 
a great deal of heat before it falls into ashes. , The 



bread, slightly risen, often undercooked, retains a 
special flavour and a sour taste, to which strangers 
find it difficult to accustom themselves. The impurities 
which it contains at last triumph over the strongest 
teeth : one grinds rather than munches, and many old 
men have worn their teeth down to the gums, like 

In spare moments the woman cooks, spins, weaves, 
sews, cuts out and mends the clothes, goes to market to 
sell her poultry, eggs, butter, and the linen she has 
woven — doing all this without neglecting the little ones 
who cry, or the newborn infant that she is nursing. 
Usually married very young, a mother before she is 
fifteen, frequently a grandmother at thirty, children 
are always multiplying and swarming round her. A 
large family is a blessing from the gods, which is wel- 
comed with gratitude, partly because its keep is inex- 
pensive. There is no question of costume ; boys and 

girls sometimes wear a bracelet 
on the wrist or an amulet round 
the neck, as well as a thick tress 
of hair falling over one ear, but 
they remain unconsciously nude 
until puberty (Figs. 8 and 9). As 
soon as they can walk the mother 
employs them in little ways, sends 
them out to pick up dry branches 
and herbs, or to collect in baskets 
the materials for the fuel ; she 
entrusts them with the care of 
driving the geese to feed, and finally allows them to 
take the cattle to pasture and to drink. As soon as 
they are six or eight years old she sends them to school 
or makes them learn a trade, usually that of the father. 
Many never get so far, but die in infancy. Badly fed, 
indifferently cared for, abandoned to themselves for 
entire days, those who have any weak points in their 
constitutions die one after the other. The most nume- 

Fig. 8.— A Little Boy. 



rous families are, usually, but the remnants of still 
larger numbers. But, at least, 
those who survive are endowed 
with good health that resists 
every shock. The Egyptian 
people, weeded, so to speak, by 
this natural operation, contains 
only vigorous individuals, of robust, 
sturdy beauty, who can endure 
pain and fatigue. It includes few 
of those infirm, crooked, and ill- 
made creatures who swarm in 
other countries: ophthalmia is the 
only malady it has to dread. The 
action of the fine sand, with 
which the atmosphere is satu- 
rated, the insupportable glare of 
light, the influence of the serene 
nights and of the fogs which rise 
in the mornings, produce, amongst 
the labourers and city workmen, 
a number of eye diseases, which 

the doctors cannot always cure, so that the streets are 
full of the one-eyed and the blind, of red and purulent 

The woman of the lower classes fades rapidly 
through her work and fecundity ; her face becomes 
hollow and wrinkled, her bust ill- shaped, her form 
bent. She is already decrepit at an age when other 
women are scarcely elderly. Her position in the 
family does not suffer in any way from this early 
deterioration : to the end she is ' the beloved of her 
husband* and the mistress of the house. The chil- 
dren display their affinity by her name rather than by 
that of the father. They are Khonshotpou, Ahmosou, 
Nouhri, born of Mrs. Banisit or Mrs. Mimout, and not 
Khonshotpou, Ahmosou, Nouhri, sons of Mr. Nibtooui 
or of Mr. Khamoisit. The divinities themselves set a 

Fig. 9. — A Yuung GirL 


good example to men on this point, and the young 
Horus is styled Harsiisit, Horus son of Isis, without 
any allusion to Osiris. The father, when necessary, 
encourages and reanimates by his counsels the chil- 
dren's affection for their mother. * It is God himself 
who gave her to thee/ says one of them, the sage 
Khonshotpou to his son Ani. * From the beginning 
she has borne a heavy burden with thee, in which I 
have been unable to help her. When thou wast born, she 
really made herself thy slave. During three years she 
nursed thee at her breast, and as thy size increased her 
heart never once allowed her to say, "Why should I do 
this?" She went with thee to school, and whilst thou 
wert learning thy letters, she placed herself near to 
thy master, every day, with bread and beer from her 
house. And now that thou art grown up, and hast 
a wife and a house in thy turn, remember always 
thine helpless infancy and the care which thy mother 
lavished upon thee, so that she may never have occasion 
to reproach thee, nor to raise her hands to heaven 
against thee, for God would fulfil her curse/ 




The middle-class quarters of Thebes — The market : sale by exchange 
or the weights of metals— The bazaars and shops — The confec- 
tioner, the cook-shops, the itinerant barber — The shoemaker — 
The goldsmith — Che carpenter — The weavers, the curriers, the 
potter — The beer-house and its customers — Appearance of the 
crowd — The masons' strike — Psarou, count of Thebes, and his 
house — The arrival of Pharaoh. 

People and houses, the whole aspect of both changes 
as we penetrate further into the heart of the city. 
The streets are neither wider nor straighter, but the 
buildings are more carefully constructed ; they are 
more regular, and so high that, from below, the sky 
looks like a simple luminous band between two dark 
lines. It is evident, from a thousand indications, that 
the population is rich, or at all events very comfortably 
off, but it conceals its wealth instead of displaying it. 
The sides of the houses that face the street are dingy 
and silent. The outer windows are rare and highly 
placed, the doors are low and carefully closed ; when 
one of them stands ajar the curious can only see 
through the opening the end of a dark passage, or the 
first steps of a staircase lost in shadow. A dog barks, 
a child cries in a distant chamber, a voice issuing from 
some unknown spot breaks the silence for an instant ; 
two passers-by exchange a salutation, poor little asses, 
laden with straw, trot nimbly by under the driver's stick. 
Here, however, one house projects over the street and 



joins the house opposite: we must grope the way for 
about twenty or thirty steps in a kind of suffocating tube, 
and then suddenly emerge into the full sunshine of a 
noisy little square, where a market is being held. Sheep, 
geese, goats, asses, large -horned oxen, scattered in 
unequal groups in the centre, are awaiting a purchaser. 
Peasants, fishermen, small retail dealers, squat several 
deep in front of the houses, displaying before them, in 
great rush baskets or on low tables, loaves or pastry, 
fruit, vegetables, fish, meat raw or cooked, jewels, per- 
fumes, stuffs, all the necessities and all the superfluities 
of Egyptian life. 

The customers stroll past and leisurely examine the 
quality of the commodities offered for sale ; each 
carries something of his own manufacture in his hand 
— a new tool, some shoes, a mat, or a small box full of 
rings of copper, silver, even of gold, of the weight of 
an oiitnoii* which he proposes to barter for the objects 
he requires. Two customers stop at the same moment 
in front of a fellah, who exhibits onions and wheat in 
a basket. Instead of money, the first holds two neck- 
lets of glass or of many - coloured earthenware, the 

second a round fan 

with a wooden 
handle, and one of 
those triangular 
ventilators which 
the cooks use to 
quicken the fire. 
* Here is a beauti- 
ful necklet which 
will please you, this 
is what you want,' 
cries the former ; 
whils-t the latter urges, ' Here is a fan and a ventilator.' 
However, the fellah, quite unmoved by this double 

* The average weight of an outnou is 2 e 6 ^ ounces or 91 grammes 
according to Mr. Cbabas. 

Fig. 10. — A Necklet for some Onions. 



attack, methodically proceeds to first seize a string of 

the beads for closer examination. ' Let me see it, that 

I may fix a price ' (Fig. 10). The one asks too much, 

the other too little ; from concession to concession they 

finally come to terms, and settle the number of onions 

or the weight of corn 

which the necklet or 

fan may be worth. 

Elsewhere (Fig. 11), 

it is a question of 

bartering a pair of 

sandals or a row of 

enamelled beads for 

some perfume. 

* Here,' urges the 

buyer, ' is a very 

strong pair of shoes/ 

But the seller does not require shoes for the moment, 

so he offers one of his small pots in exchange for a row 

of beads. ' It is delicious when a few drops are poured 

Fig. 11. — Some Perfume for a Necklet. 

fc^""*--*"' — 

Fig. 12. — Sale of Perfumes— sale of Fish. 

out/ he explains, with a persuasive air. A woman 
thrusts under the nose of a kneeling individual two 
jars, probably containing some ointment of her own 
manufacture (Fig. 12). * Here/ she cries, ' it smells 



sweet enough to entice thee.' Behind this group two 
men are discussing the value of a packet of fish-hooks 
(Fig. 13) ; a woman, box in hand, is a vendor of brace- 
lets and necklets ; another woman endeavours to obtain 
a reduction upon the price of a fish, which is being 
dressed before her. 

When it is a questiou of a large animal, or of objects 
of considerable value, the accounts become intricate. 
For instance, Ahmosou sells a bull for a mat, five 
measures of honey, eleven measures of oil, and seven 
objects of different kinds. Now, imagine the calcula- 

Fig. 13. — The Fish-hooks and the Purchase of a Necklet. 

tions which must have been made before he succeeded 
in establishing such a complicated balance. Besides, 
the value in metal of each article was carefully noted, 
and is mentioned in the bill.* The mat was estimated 
at 25 outnou, the honey at 4, the oil at 10, and so on, 
the whole weighing 119 outnou, which is not too deai 

* Twenty-five outnou equal 91x25 = 2275 grammes; 4 outturn, 
91.x 4 = 384 grammes; 10 outnou, 91 x 10 = 910 grammes; 119 ouniou, 
91x119 = 10,829 grammes in weight, and, without alloy, 14,378 
grammes, equal to about 143 francs 78 centimes, or 51. 15*. in copper 
money. By repeating thin calculation for each figure indicated later 
on, the value of objects computed in outnou of gold, silver, or copper 
is easily ascertained. 



for a beast in good condition.* This custom of pay- 
ment by one of the usual metals is so convenient, and 
dispenses with so many calculations, that it has been 
adopted even for the minor transactions of daily life. 
The butcher, the baker, the corn-chandler, all the small 
tradesmen prefer exchange for metal, which is of small 
compass and does not spoil, to exchange for objects, 
often bulky in size, which are liable to deteriorate if 
kept too long in the house. A pair of ducks is worth 
a quarter of an outnou in copper; a fan, a quarter; a 
bronze razor is worth a whole outnou ; a pickaxe, two ; 
a goat, two ; an ox-head, half an outnou in silver ; a 
leather bottle of fine wine, three outnou of gold. It is 
true that often the rings or twisted wires which represent 
the outnou and its multiples do not contain the reputed 
quantity of gold or silver, and are too light. They are 
then weighed at every fresh market (Fig. 14). The 
parties interested take advantage of the excuse for 
quarrelling loudly; 
when they have de- 
claimed, for about a 
quarter of an hour, that 
the scales are false, that 
the weight has been 
badly taken and should 
be tried over again, 
they get tired of war, 
come to an agreement, 
and go away quite satis- 
fied with each other. 
The evil is more serious 
when too intelligent 
and too unscrupulous 
individuals falsify the precious metals, and introduce 
as much copper into the ingots as they can contain 
without detection. The honest trader who thinks that 

Fig, 14. — Weighing the Outnou. 

* This bill has been preserved upon a fragment of pottery (ostracon) 
in the British Museum. 


he receives, let us say, eight ontnou of fine gold, and 
upon whom are foisted eight ontnou of an alloy exactly 
resembling gold, but which contains only two-thirds of 
it, then unconsciously loses one-third of his merchandise. 

But for this danger of fraud, which every one 
naturally dreads, exchange for metal would have 
already superseded barter for miscellaneous objects. 
It will become the universal custom as soon as some 
method can be discovered which will free the public 
from the necessity of continual weighing, and will 
guarantee the purity of the ingots.* 

Two or three commercial streets or bazaars open 
from the other side of the square, and the crowd 
hastens towards them when it leaves the market. 
Nearly their whole length is filled with stalls and 
shops, in which not only Egypt, but the majority of 
the oriental nations display their most varied pro- 
ductions. Beautifully ornamented stuffs from Syria, 
Phoenician or Hittite jewellery, scented woods and 
gums from Punt and the Holy Lands ;*f* lapis and 
embroideries from Babylon ; coral, gold, iron, tin, 
and amberj from far-distant countries beyond the 
seas, are found scattered pell-mell amongst the native 
fine linen, jewels, glass-work, and furniture. The shop 
is usually independent from the rest of the house, and 
is let separately. It is a small, square room, often a 
simple shed, widely open in front, and closed every 
evening by means of wooden shutters, held in place by 
cross-bars ; with one or two mats, one or two low stools, 
some shelves fixed to the wall, which hold the goods; 

* This method was discovered in the eaily part of the seventh 
century before our era, some say by the kings of Lydia, others by 
Phido of Argos. By putting a stamp upon the ingots, an official 
mark which guaranteed the weight and value, the Lydians or the 
Greeks transformed them into pieces of money. 

+ Southern Arabia, the African coasts of the Red Sea and the land 
of the Somalis. 

X I have found a fair quantity of amber beads in the tombs of the 
Ancient and Middle Empire, which I excavated in Abydos. 



perhaps behind the shop one or two carefully closed 
rooms where the most valuable objects are stored. 
Most of the tradesmen are also manufacturers. They 
have apprentices or workmen who work for them, and 
they join them during the intervals between their sales. 
The handicraft they ply has no secrets which a curious 
customer may not see if he feel so inclined. Artisans 
of the same trade have usually a natural tendency to 
collect together, to dwell side by side in the same 
place — blacksmiths with blacksmiths, curriers with 
curriers, goldsmiths with goldsmiths, forming a small 
city in which objects of the same kind only are found : 
here the shops are of all kinds, and follow each other 
without any particular order. 

The two which occupy the corner of the square 
belong, the one on the right to a confectioner, the 
other on the left to a cook. It is noon, the time for 
dinner and afterwards for the siesta; the crowd 
hurries towards them. 
Whilst the confectioner 
spreads out his preserved 
dates, syrups, and pastry 
made of honey and spices, 
his assistants at the back 
are pounding almonds and 
pistachio nuts in a mortar 
(Fig. 15), decanting and 
filtering mysterious li- 
quids, and preparing as 
difficult combinations as 
those of a doctor making 
up a medicine. Over the 
way the cook and his 
waiters are quite inade- 
quate to satisfy the re- 
quirements of their cus- 
tomers. Quarters of geese, portions of beef, stews, 
vegetables, the patient work of the whole morning, 

Fig. 15.- 

-The Pastrycook at 



only appear in order to disappear,, Fortunately extra 
supplies are at hand ; pieces of raw meat hang from 
the ceiling, awaiting their turn to enter the scene of 
action (Fig. 16). Two saucepans, full to overflowing, 

Fig. 16.— The Cookshop. 

are just boiling, and a cook is roasting a goose, which 
he holds upon a spit over the fire with his left 
hand, whilst he quickens the flame with a ventilator 
held in his right hand (Fig. 17). Some of the 

customers carry their 
purchases away, after 
they have paid for them, 
for the family dinner in 
their own houses. Others 
prefer to eat them on the 
spot. A citizen (Fig. 18), 
seated upon a stool, draped 
in his mantle, is pre- 
pared for a good meal, if 
we may judge of his ap- 
petite by the amount of food placed before him. A 
barber, roaming about the neighbourhood, has at last 
found a customer amongst all these diners, and is 
rapidly shaving his head before satisfying his own 

Fig. 17.— The Cook roasts a 



Fig. 18. — One of the Customers 
in the Cookshop. 

hunger (Fig. 19). A shoemaker lives next to the confec- 
tioner, a goldsmith to the shoemaker, a carpenter to the 
goldsmith. The shoemaker appears to have the largest 
connexion, for he keeps four workmen continually 
employed (Fig. 20). One 
of them has fetched a 
skin from the back of 
the shop, and has cut it 
into bands of the width 
of a man's foot, which he 
lays upon a high bench, 
in order to make them 
supple and pliable by 
tapping them with a ham- 
mer. The three others, 
each seated before a low, 
sloping work-bench, upon 

which their tools are laid, work hard, whilst their 
master bargains with his customers. They do not 
make fancy shoes, sandals with curved points and 
many-coloured bands, high-heeled Turkish slippers, 

or soft leather shoes lacing in 
front, but footgear for use and 
hard work. This usually con- 
sists of a strong sole, shaped in 
a general way to the form of the 
foot. It has two ears at the 
back, through which pass leathern 
thongs ; a third thong fixed be- 
tween the great and the second 
toes is fastened to the two others 
over the instep. The workman 
in the centre pierces one of the 
ears with his awl, the one on the left bores through 
the sandal, and the one on the right draws the 
strap with his teeth to get it into place. Looking 
at them, one understands why the satirist said of 
the working shoemaker ' that he had only leather to 

»".'cbt>-<7-> — 

Fig. 19.— The Barber 
and his Customer„ 



eat/* Sandals cut out, but not finished, hang against 
the wall, with half-a-dozen skins ; but one single pair 
is entirely completed and ready tor sale. 

The goldsmith occupies less space than his neigh- 
bour, the shoemaker. A small anvil, some pincers, 
some hammers, a furnace with a reflector, and, as 
assistant, one single apprentice. A few dozen rings, 
some earrings, and bracelets in copper or in bad silver 
are laid out for show, but the valuable jewels are 
safely placed in a chest at the back of the shop, far 
from the eyes of the crowd, and, above all, far from 
its hands. The gold arrives in nuggets, in packets of 
a given weight, from the heart of Africa, where the 

"i**ot.\ t,-*--^ 

Fig. 20. — A Shoemaker's Workshop. 

negroes collect it from the sand of the rivers ; in bars 
and rings from Syria, or the deserts which separate 
the Nile from the Red Sea. Silver and electrum, that 
natural alloy which contains twenty parts of silver to 
eighty of gold, are brought by the Phoenicians and 
Ethiopians. Grreen (mafkait) and red stones, emeralds, 
jasper, olivine, garnets, rubies, cornelian, are found in 
Egypt itself. The lapis-lazuli is imported by Chal- 
dean merchants from the unknown and almost fabulous 
regions bordered by Elam. Here a young woman has 
just given a slab of electrum to the goldsmith, and 

* See on page 7 the passage in which this allusion is made. 



she is waiting, chatting the whole time, whilst he 
converts it into a bracelet. He first carefully weighs 
the metal, then throws it into the fire. Seated before 
the crucible, his pincers in one hand, he quickens the 
flame by means of a blowpipe to hasten the fusion, or 
rather the softening, of 

the electrum (Fig. 21). < g; 

As soon as the metal is 
hot enough, he with- 
draws it from the fire, 
beats it upon the anvil, 
reheats it, rebeats it, and 
finally reduces it to the 
desired thickness and 
length. He then bends 
it with a single move- 
ment, and rounds it until the two extremities meet, 
rapidly solders them, cleans his work with sand, pours 
a jar of water over it to cool it, and polishes it with 
his hand. This takes him at least an hour, during 


Fig. 21.— The Goldsmith at his 


Fig. 22. — The Carpenter niakiug Chairs. 

which time he has been disturbed perhaps twenty 
times by requests for rings, a pair of earrings, a 
chain, or an < ankle-ring. 

The same activity reigns at the house of his neigh- 



bour, the carpenter (Fig. 22), where, at the present 
moment, some state chairs in inlaid wood are being 
made. One of them is already put together, and the 
workman is drilling holes in the frame to which the 
lattice for the seat is to be fastened. The workman 
opposite is less advanced in his work ; he has carved 

the four lion's feet which are 
to support the seat, and is 
now hastening to rub them 
down with pumice-stone. His 
adze is placed upon the block 
of wood which furnishes him 
with materials. It is formed 
of a short blade, usually of 
iron, attached by a lacing of 
straps to a curved handle 
(Fig. 23).<3>The adze is the 
favourite tool of the Egyptian 
carpenter®)EIe uses it to cut 
up his wood, to shape his 
planks, to cut and plane 
them ^)n his hands it is 
worth half-a-dozen different tools fin those of any 
foreign carpenter. 

A clicking of shuttles, blended with the chattering 
of women, points to a room full of spinners and weavers 
in active work. One winds and twists the flax between 
her fingers, another smooths the thread, a third dresses 
it ; two others, crouched on each side of a low loom 
fastened to the ground, are weaving a piece of linen 
(Fig. 21). A currier scrapes some skins with a paring- 
knife ; a potter moulds some dishes in red clay ; a 
maker of stoneware hollows and polishes the inside of 
a large alabaster horn with a kind of wimble. These 
are all honest industries which are openly plied. 
Further on a beer-house stands half-concealed at the 
corner of a dark alley. The Egyptian is sober as a 
rule, but when he allows himself ' a good day/ he never 

Fig. 23.— gPft^arpeatet's 


deprives himself of the pleasure of drinking, and has 
no objection to intoxication. The beer-house, openly 
frequented by some, secretly by others, always has an 
excellent trade ; if the publicans be not as much re- 
spected as other tradesmen, they, at least, prosper well. 
The reception-room has been freshly limewashed. 
It is furnished with mats, stools, and armchairs, 
upon which the habitual customers sit side by side, 
fraternally drinking beer, wine, palm brandy (slwtou), 
cooked and perfumed liquors, which would probably 
seem detestable to us, but for which the Egyptians 
display a strong taste. The wine • is preserved in 

Fig. 24.— Women at a Loom. 

large amphorse, pitched outside and closed with a 
wooden or clay stopper, over which some mud is laid, 
painted blue and then stamped with the name of the 
owner or of the reigning Pharaoh. An inscription 
in ink, traced upon the jar, indicates the origin and 
the exact date of the wine : The year XXIII, im- 
ported wine. The year XIX, wine of Bon to, and so on. 
There is wine of every variety, white and red : wine 
from Mareotis, wine from Pelusium, wine Star of 
Horus, master of heaven; native growths from the Oasis, 
wines of Syena, without counting the wines from 


Ethiopia, nor the golden wines which the Phoenician 
galleys bring from Syria. Beer has always been the 
favourite beverage of the people. It is made with a 
mash-tub of barley steeped in water, and raised by 
fermented crumbs of bread. When freshly made, it is 
soft and pleasant to the taste, but it is easily disturbed 
and soon turns sour. Most of the vinegar used in 
Egypt is not wine vinegar, but a vinegar made from 
beer. This defect is obviated by adding an infusion of 
lupine to the beer, which gives it a certain bitterness and 
preserves it. Sweet beer, iron beer, sparkling beer, 
perfumed beer, spiced beer — cold or hot, beer of thick, 
sticky millet, like that prepared in Nubia and amongst 
the negroes of the Upper Nile. The beer -houses con- 
tain stores of as many varieties of beer as of different 
qualities of wine. 

If you enter, you are scarcely seated before a slave 
or a maid-servant hastens forward and accosts you : 
' Drink unto rapture, let it be a good day, listen to the 
conversation of thy companions and enjoy thyself.' 
Every moment the invitation is renewed : ' Drink, do 
not turn away, for I will not leave thee until thou hast 
drunk/ The formula changes, but the refrain is 
always the same — drink, drink, and again, drink. The 
regular customers do not hesitate to reply to these in- 
vitations by jokes, usually of a most innocent kind : 
* Come now, 'faring me eighteen cups of wine with thine 
own hand. I will drink till I. am happy, and the mat 
under me is a good straw bed upon which I can sleep 
myself sober.'* They discuss together the different 
effects produced by wine and beer. The wine enlivens 
and produces benevolence and tenderness ; beer makes 
men dull, stupefies them, and renders them liable to 
fall into brutal rages. A man tipsy from wine falls on 
his face, but any one intoxicated by beer falls and lies 

* The remarks of the drinkers are taken from a scene of a funeral 
meal in the tomb of lianni, at El-Kab. I have paraphrased them in 
order to render them intelligible to the modern reader. 


on his back. The moralists reprove these excesses, and 
cannot find words strong enough to express the danger 
of them. Wine first loosens the tongue of man, even 
wresting from him dangerous words, and afterwards it 
prostrates him, so that he is no longer capable of de- 
fending his own interests. ' Do not, therefore, forget 
thyself in the breweries ; be afraid that words may 
come back to thee that thou hast uttered, without 
knowing that thou hast spoken. When at last thou 
fallest, thy limbs failing thee, no one will help thee 
thy boon companions will leave thee, saying, " Beware 
of him, he is a drunkard ! " Then when thou art 
wanted for business, thou art found prone upon the 
earth like a little child.' Young men especially should 
avoid this shameful vice, for ' beer destroys their souls/ 
He that abandons himself to drink 'is like an oar broken 
from its fastening, which no longer obeys on either side ; 
he is like a chapel without its god, like a house without 
bread, in which the wall is wavering and the beam 
shaking. The people that he meets in the street turn 
away from him, for he throws mud and hoots after 
them/ until the police interfere and carry him away 
to regain his senses in prison. 

Some are going to market, others coming from it ; 
the crowd is divided into two streams of almost equal 
force, which meet at the street corners, blend together, 
or cross each other, showing, as they pass onward, a 
thousand varieties of costume and type. Nothing can 
be more mixed than the population of a great Egyptian 
city. Every year thousands of slaves are brought into 
it by the fortunes of war, its commerce attracts mer- 
chants from all quarters of the globe, and the foreign 
elements, perpetually absorbed in the old native popu- 
lation, form hybrid generations in which the features 
of the most opposite races are blended, and ultimately 
lost. Amongst twenty officers or functionaries who 
surround Pharaoh, perhaps ten are of Syrian, Berber, 
and Ethiopian origin, and Pharaoh himself has in his 



veins the blood of Nubian and Asiatic princesses, whom 
the fortunes of war have introduced into the harems of 
his ancestors. Dark skins predominate in the streets ; 
Egyptian fellahs burnt by the sun and inclining 
towards red ochre, Nubians the colour of smoked 
bronze, negroes from the Upper Nile, almost nude but 
for the short cotton drawers round the loins ; here and 
there a soldier of the Shairetana guard, or a Khita 
from the gorges of the Taurus, is rendered conspicuous 
amongst the surrounding crowd by his fair complexion. 

Citizens, newly shaved and painted, 
with curled wigs, folded cloak and 
floating skirts, bare-footed or wearin g 
peaked sandals, are gravely wending 
their way to business, a long cane 
in one hand (Fig. 25). A priest 
passes with shaven head, draped in 
a white mantle. A chariot drawn 
by two horses leisurely makes its 
way through the crowd. Ladies of 
good family are bargaining in the 
shops in groups of three or four. 
They wear above the close-fitting 
smock-frock a long dress of fine 
linen, starched, gauffered, but al- 
Fig. 25.— An Egyptian most transparent, which covers 
Citizen. r rather than veils the form. 

Suddenly a great noise is heard 
at one end of the street, the crowd is violently 
opened, and about a hundred workmen, shouting, 
gesticulating, their bodies and faces covered with clay 
and mortar, force their way through, dragging in the 
midst of them three or four frightened, piteous-looking 
scribes. These are the masons employed in the 
new buildings of the temple of Mut, who have 
just gone on strike, and are now on their way to 
lay their grievances before Psarou, the count-governor 
of the city, and general superintendent of the king's 


works. These small riots are not rare, they spring 
from misery and hunger. As we know, the greater 
portion of the wages consists of wheat, dhoura, oil, and 
rations of food, which the masters usually distribute 
on the first day of every month, and which ought to last 
until the first of the month following. The quantity 
allotted to each man would certainly suffice if it were 
economically used ; but what is the use of preaching 
economy to people who reach home in a famished con- 
dition, after a day of hard work in which they have 
only eaten two cakes, seasoned with a little muddy 
water, about twelve o'clock ? During the first days of 
the month, the family satisfy their hunger without 
sparing the provisions ; towards the middle the por- 
tions diminish and complaints begin ; during the last 
week famine ensues and the work suffers. If we con- 
sult the official registers of the scribes in the workyards, 
or simply the books of the overseers, we shall find 
notes in the end of each month of frequent idleness, 
and, at times, of strikes produced by the weakness and 
hunger of the workmen. 

On the 10th of last month, the workmen employed 
at the temple of Mut, having nothing left, rushed from 
the workyard in a tumult, went to a chapel of 
Thothmes III. which stands near, and sat down behind 
it, saying, 'We are hungry, and there are still eighteen 
days before next month/ Is their pay insufficient, or 
have they eaten their supplies unreasonably quickly? 
According to their own accounts, the scribes give them 
short measure and enrich themselves by the robbery. 
On the other hand, the scribes accuse the poor fellows 
of improvidence, and assert that they squander their 
wages as soon as they receive them. No one could be 
astonished if both scribes and masons were found to be 
right. The malcontents were scarcely outside when 
the superintendent of the works hastened up, accom- 
panied by a police officer, an \ began to parley with 
them. ' Go back, and we solemnly swear that we will 


ourselves lead you to Pharaoh, when he comes to 
inspect the works of the temple. ' 

Two days later Pharaoh came, and the scribe 
Pento'i'rit went to him with the police officer. The 
prince, after listening- to them, graciously delegated 
one of the scribes of his suite, and some of the priests 
of the temple, to have an interview with the workmen. 
The latter presented their request in excellent terms. 
'We come, pursued by hunger, pursued by thirst; we 
have no more clothes, no more oil, no more fish 
cr vegetables. Tell this to Pharaoh, our master — tell 
this to Pharaoh, our sovereign — that we may receive 
the means of living/ Pharaoh, touched by their 
misery, ordered fifty sacks of corn to be distributed 
amongst them, and this unexpected windfall enabled 
them to wait for the end of the month without too 
much suffering. The first days of Ephipi passed fairly 
quietly, but on the 15th the provisions fell short, and 
the discontent recommenced. On the 16th the men 
stopped work, and remained idle on the 17th and 18th. 
On the 19th the men endeavoured to leave the work- 
yard in the morning, but the scribe Pento'i'rit, who 
overlooked them, had secretly doubled the guard, and 
had taken his precautions so wisely that the workmen 
could not get outside the gates. They passed the whole 
day consulting and plotting together in small groups. 
At last, this morning, at sunrise they assembled at the 
foot of an unfinished wall, and seeing the superintendent 
of the works coming to make his rounds they rushea 
towards him and surrounded him, making a great 
noise. Vainly he endeavoured to calm them with 
gentle words : they would not listen. Their shouts 
attracted other officials and several of the priests of 
Mut ; the workmen immediately hastened towards 
them, and appealed to the superintendent to explain 
the matter. ' By Amen/ they said, ' by the sovereign 
whose rage destroys, we will not go back to work ! 
You can tell this to your superiors, who are assembled 



down there/ At last, tired of protesting and of ob- 
taining nothing, they suddenly decided to go to the 
Governor of Thebes, and to appeal to him for justice. 

The distance is not great between the temple of Mut 
and the house of Psarou ; ten minutes' walk through 
the streets, not without exchanging some blows with 
the crowd, which did not make way quickly enough, 
and the rioters have reached the gate. It opens in a 
long, low, crenellated wall, above which a large acacia 
lifts its leafy head, and it gives access to a large court- 
yard surrounded with buildings (Fig. 26). On the left 
stands the master's dwelling, built of freestone ; it is 
narrow and bare, consist- 

Fig. 26.— The House of Psarou, 
seen from the Street. 

ing of a rather high 
ground-floor, surmounted 
by two stories and a 
terrace ; in the centre are 
two granaries for corn, 
rounded at the top ; on the 
extreme right is a large 
vaulted cellar. The door- 
keeper had put up the 

safety bars at the first noise, but the swing-doors 
yield under the strong pressure from without. The 
whole band simultaneously enters the court and 
waits there, a little uncertain what to do next. 
However, Psarou hurries forward, and his appearance 
alone suffices to impress the men, trained from infancy 
to bow before a master. At last one of them decides 
to speak ; the others applaud, timidly at first, then they 
become excited at the tale of their sufferings. They 
refuse to listen when the governor endeavours to soothe 
them with promises. Words are no longer sufficient, 
they clamour loudly for actions. ' Will the over- 
seers give us some corn in addition to the distribution 
already made ? If not, we will not move from here.' 
At this moment a slave makes his way through the 
crowd and softly warns Psarou that Pharaoh left the 


palace a quarter of an hour ago, that he is going 
towards the temple of Amen, and will pass the house ; 
in fact, his escort has already reached the neighbouring- 
street. Pharaoh coming upon a riot ! Pharaoh 
himself hearing the workmen's complaints ! Psarou 
rapidly decides upon his movements, and, interrupting 
the discussion, calls his steward, Khamoisit : ' See how 
much corn there is in the granaries and give it to the 
men ! ' Then, turning to the others : ' Go at once to 
the granaries with Khamoisit and take what he gives 
you/ The crowd, not knowing the motive of this 
sudden decision, attributes it to an impulse of natural 
generosity, and loudly expresses its thanks and praises. 
' Thou art our father, and we are thy sons ! — Thou 
art the old man's staff, the nurse of the children, the 
helper of the distressed ! — Thou art a warm shelter for 
all who are cold in Thebes ! — Thou art the head of the 
afflicted, that never fails the people of our land ! ' 
There is a profusion of thanks and gratitude. Psarou 
cuts these protestations short, hastens the departure of 
the men, and does not breathe freely until the last of 
the strikers has disappeared behind the granaries with 
Khamoisit. In five minutes the court is empty, and 
the street has resumed its usual appearance : Pharaoh 
may come. 




A royal costume — Pharaoh goes to the temple — Pharaoh is a god 
upon earth, a son of Ea — The dream of Queen Moutemouait — 
The four names of Pharaoh — The double and the hawk's names 
— Pharaoh is adored as a god during his lifetime — His cabinet 
council : Rameses II. and the gold mines — The insignia of 
Pharaoh and his double royalty — Pharaoh is the intermediary 
between earth and heaven — The connexion with the gods: dream 
of Thothmes IV. — Pharaoh's escort and his passage through the 

The king of the two Egypts, Ousinnari-sotpounri, son 
of the Sun, Ramsisou-Miamoun, who, like the sun, gives 
life eternally — usually called Sesousri (Sesostris) by his 
subjects — is anxiously expecting the arrival of a courier 
from Syria. The last accounts received from that 
country were bad. The royal messengers who go there 
every year to collect the tribute complain of being in- 
sulted, even ill-treated, by the inhabitants of the great 
cities ; bands of the Shasu,* posted in the gorges of 
Lebanon, have recommenced robbing the caravans from 
Babylon and Khaloupou ;f the princes of Zahi and 
Amaourou are drilling their militia and hastily re- 
pairing the walls of their fortresses ; lastly, Motour, 
the old kino; of the Khita, has mysteriously disappeared 
in some palace revolution, and his successor, Xhitasir, 
seems little inclined to respect treaties. Pharaoh, more 
anxious than he cares to own, has therefore resolved 

* The Sbasu are the Syrian Bedouins. 

t Khaloupou is the ancient name of Khilibu, Alep. 



this very morning to go to the temple of Amen, in 
order to see the god and to consult with him. He 
wears a state costume suitable to the occasion : short 
drawers of pleated linen gauze, ornamented at the back 
by a jackal's tail, and in front by a kind of stiff apron 
of gold and coloured enamel, a long robe of fine linen, 
with short sleeves, peaked sandals, a head-dress of 
white, striped with red, ornamented with the urgeus 
{Fig. 27.) His equerry, Menni, waited for him in the 

great court of the palace, 
ready to drive him as usual. 
Rameses dismisses him with 
a gesture, and seizing the 
reins with a firm hand, he 
springs into the chariot. The 
large folding gates of the 
palace are at once thrown 
open, and the king drives 
through them at a gallop, or, 
to use the correct expression, 
1 shows himself under the gate- 
way of lapis- lazuli like the 
sun when he rises in the 
morning in the eastern hori- 
zon of heaven to inundate the 
world with his rays.' 

He is not compared to the 
sun without some reason for 
such a title Ra, who created 
the world, was also the first sovereign of Egypt and the 
ancestor of all the Pharaohs. Since he quitted this 
earth for heaven his royalty was directly transmitted 
to the gods, from the gods to the heroes, from the 
heroes to Menes, and from Menes to the historic 
dynasties. However far back the history of the past 
may be traced, the genealogical chain remains unbroken 
between the present Rameses and the Sun; the Pharaoh 
is always a son of Ka, and through successive sons of 

Fig. 27.— Pharaoh 


Ka we at last reach Ra himself. It is said that he 
sometimes condescends to come amongst us and to 
personally secure the direct succession of his house. 
Tradition relates that the three first kings of the fifth 
dynasty, Userkaf, Sahu-ra, and Kaka, were born from 
his union with the wife of a priest, in the small town 
of Sakhibou. Nearer to our own time, we know from 
authentic sources that he intervened directly in the 
case of Thothmes IV. to give him the son he wanted. 
One night when the Queen Moutemouait was sleeping 
in the most beautiful room in her palace she suddenly 
awoke and saw her husband by her side, then a few 
minutes after — was it a dream, or reality ? — the 
brilliant figure of the Theban Amen. As she cried 
out in alarm, the apparition predicted to her the birth 
of a son, who should reign over Thebes, and then 
vanished in a cloud of perfume sweeter and more pene- 
trating than all the perfumes of Arabia. The child, 
who was afterwards Amenophis III., became famous 
as one of the most glo rious sovereigns of his time. He 
killed one hundred and twelve great lions in ten years, 
subjugated the tribes of Ethiopia to the southern ex- 
temities of our earth, kept the Syrians, Phoenicians, 
Cyprus and the isles of the sea, the Khita, and all the 
peoples of the North, in a state of subjection, received 
the homage of Nineveh and Babylon, repaired the old 
temples of Thebes and built new ones. His funeral 
chapel is the most beautiful of those in the place of 
tombs on the left bank of the Nile, and the two granite 
colossi which flank its door are second in grandeur to 
the gigantic Sphinx of the Pyramids only.* The 
temple that he erected at Luxor in honour of Amen is 
a commemorative monument of the events that pre- 
ceded his birth. A picture may still be seen, in a room 

* The chapel is destroyed, but the colossi are still standing. One 
of them, the most mutilated, is the celebrated statue of the Memnon, 
which sings at daybreak. Roman tourists went to hear the voice 
when they visted Thebes, during the first two centuries of our era. 


adjoining the sanctuary, in which the nocturnal inter- 
view of the queen and the god is vividly represented. 
As a rule, the personal intervention of Ra or of one 
of the forms derived from him is unnecessary. The 
divine blood which flows in the royal veins is trans- 
mitted by natural inheritance to all his children, and 
if sons be lacking, daughters can transmit it ; for even 
if the husband be the lowest of slaves, their children 
are born sons and daughters of Ra, and they can be- 
come kings through their mother. 

In assuming the royal diadem, Pharaoh does not 
lose the name he received as a royal prince. He was 
Amenophis, Thothmes, Rameses, Harmhabi ; and con- 
tinues to bear the same name, adding to it an epithet, 
Miamoun, the beloved of Amen ; Hiq-o'isit, the Regent 
of Thebes ; Menephthah, the friend of Ptah. Since, 
however, it was necessary that his change of position 
should be visible to all men, a flat-bottomed elliptic 
oval, which we call a cartouche, is traced round tV- 
name of Rameses or of Amenophis, before it is placed 
the title Si-ra, son of Ra, which marks his solar de- 
scent, behind it an unvarying formula, in which he is 
complimented upon being the eternal life-giver, like 
Ra himself ; this assemblage of words is henceforth 
inseparable and forms his usual name, the title which 
his subjects habitually use, and by which he is known 
in history. 

The first kings were content with this, even the 
haughtiest amongst them — Menes, Seneferu, Kheops, 
Mykerinos ; but towards the end of the fifth dynasty 
the custom was established of adding to this birth- 
name a coronation title, which was also surrounded by 
a cartouche. This was always a short phrase formed of 
three words, expressing that quality or privilege of Ra 
that was most desired for the new sovereign during his 
sojourn upon earth. For instance, the surname of 
Thothmes III., Menkhopirri, signifies Steadfast is Ra, 
and that of Amenophis III., Nibmaoutri, Ra is the 


Master of Truth. Seti I., the father of Barneses II., 
was entitled Menmatri, The Sun is steadfast through 
Truth; and RamesesII. joined to Ousirmari, The Sun 
is powerful through Truth, the epithet Sotpouniri, elected 
by the Sun. There is little variation in the formulas 
adopted by the different princes of the same branch of 
the solar line, and the surnames of each dynasty bear 
a strong family resemblance that cannot be mistaken. 
That of Thothmes I. was Akhopirkeri, Great is the soul 
of Ra : Thothmes II. the son of Thothmes I. substituted 
the preposition in for the word ka, soul, and assumed 
the title of Akhopirnirt, Great is Ra. Thothmes III., 
who succeeded Thothmes II., suppressed the preposi- 
tion and changed the term da, to be great, for the 
term men, to be durable, Menkhopirii ; but his son, 
Amenophis II., returned to the ideas expressed by da, 
but placed the word Khopri, being, in the plural, Akho- 
prouri, Great are the ways of Ra. Lastly, Thothmes IV. 
adopted his grandfather's surname with the plural of 
Khopir, Menkhoprouri, Stable are the ways of Ra.* 

This is not all : the full title of each Pharaoh com- 
mences by a third name, which is recognised by the 
oblong rectangle which surrounds it. This rectangle 
is terminated at the lower part by a collection of lines 
which represent a monumental facade, in the midst of 
which a bolted gate can sometimes be distinguished. 
Above is a figure of a hawk wearing a double crown 
and the solar disk. Kheops here called himself Hor 
maziti, Horus, who crushes the enemies; Thothmes III., 
Hor ka-naktou kha -m-mait, Horus, the strong bull who 
rises through the Truth ; Barneses II. , Hor ka-nakhtou 
miri-mait, Horus, the strong bull who loves the Truth 
(Fig. 28). We read, at the end of the third name, a 
series of epithets which again commence by a hawk, 

* The English forms of these titles are: Thothmes I., Raakhe- 
perha; Thothmes II., Raahhcpeen ; Thothmes III., Ramenkheper ; 
Amenophis II., R&akhepero<> ; Thothmes IV., Ramenkheperoo ; 
Amenophis III., Ramaneb ; Seti I., Ramenma ; Barneses II., Ran* 
serma-sot' penra. 



"5 1- 


^ ici 

.01 1 J 

but by a hawk placed over the golden 
sign, which designates the living 
Horus, Horus the conqueror. The 
comparison between the king and the 
Sun is then continued. Rameses II. 
thus boasts of being the golden hawk, 
rich in years, and very strong. In 
short, the complete designation of the 
Pharaohs includes four parts, always 
arranged in the same order : two, 
which may be called the hawks' names, 
the names of Horus, and two which bear 
the royal names surrounded by a car- 
touche. The scribes also insert be- 
tween them as many phrases as the 
spirit of flattery can inspire, and as 
their space will contain. It is pro- 
bable that this practice is favourably 
regarded in high quarters, but the 
four regulation names suffice for eti- 
quette, and by themselves express the 
sovereign's personality. This person- 
ality is composed of two parts, like 
every human person — a soul and a 
body. The cartouches respond to the 
stages through which the body has 
passed, and which render it two 
distinct beings. The name takes pos- 
session of the man upon his entry into 
the world, and establishes his identity 
from the commencement to the end of 
his life ; the surname follows the mo- 
ment he is born into the sovereignty, 
and consecrates the aggrandisement he 
acquires in wearing the crown. The 
hawk names define the soul and its 
Fig. 28.— The names state. The Egyptians imagine that 
ot Rameses II. the soul is a subtile double of the man, 



which exactly reproduces the individual, wxtn his figure, 
colour, gesture, and gait. When one of us is born into 
this world, his double, or to give it the native name, 
the Ka, enters it with him. Since this double is 
usually invisible, the painters and sculptors seldom 
represent it ; when they attempt to do so, they depict 
it as the exact image of the being to which it is 
attached. The pictures at Luxor, in which Pharaoh 
Ameuophis III. has repro- 
duced the history of his child- 
hood, is a good example of the 
fashion in which it should be 
imagined (Fig. 29). Amenophis 
is born, and his double is, like 
himself, an infant, whom nurses 
cherish with the same care ; 
he grows, and his double grows 
with him. The double faith- 
fully accompanies his prototype 

through all the viVissiinrles of F| g- 29.— Amenophis III. and 
tnrougn an tne vicissitudes oi his doable . the double is 

his earthly existence. After the second figure. 

death it follows him to the 

tomb, and dwells there near the mummy, sometimes 

hidden in the funeral chambers, sometimes escaping 

outside, recognisable at night by a pale light, which 

has won for it the name of Luminous, Khu. 

The gods, both greatest and least, have a double as 

well as men, only they can divide it into many doubles, 

and diffuse it over as many bodies as they like without 

either diminishing or weakening it. If Ra, Horus, or 

Amen choose to send forth one of their own doubles, 

the object into which it enters — man or beast, stone, 

tree, or statue — at once assumes life, and participates in 

the nature of the divinity which animates it. Every 

royal soul is a double detached from Horus. Whilst 

the child predestined to reign is still a prince or a 

princess, the double of Horus slumbers within it, and 

it has apparently merely the same soul as other men. 


As soon as the youth ascends the throne and acquires the 
sovereignty, the double awakens in him and transforms 
him into a living Horus, incarnate upon earth. The 
hawk names are those by which this Horus is dis- 
tinguished from the Horii who have reigned before 
him, or who will succeed him in the exercise of the 
supreme power. The epithets preceded by the symbol 
of the conquering Horus depict him triumphant, during 
the term of his royal existence, over all the enemies of 
Egypt, just as Horus formerly overcame all the mur- 
derers of his father, Osiris. The name surrounded by 
the rectangle is the part of Horus, the double, destined 
to survive the king. The rectangle is the funeral 
chamber in which he will one day rest, and the closed 
door is the door of the tomb. He loses none of his 
power through this incarnation, and even retains the 
faculty of drawing new doubles from himself and of 
sending them to a distance to animate other bodies. 
Every statue of the king has one of these doubles 
dwelling in it, rendering it an animated effigy of the 
king, in spite of its outward immobility. When 
Amenophis III. built the temple of Soleb in Nubia, 
he wished to dwell by the side of his father Amen. 
He caused a statue of himself to be hewn out of rose- 
coloured granite, and by a prayer placed one of his 
own doubles in it ; then he introduced it into the 
sanctuary, and offered before it the worship always 
celebrated at the enthronement of the gods. Even 
now we see him upon the walls of the temple, adoring 
his living portrait. The double once linked to his 
stone body never leaves it whilst it remains intact ; to 
restore it to liberty the statue must be broken. 

Pharaoh is then really a visible god, a god become 
flesh. He is called the good god, the great god, the 
living god, and no one approaches him without offering 
the words and honours due to a god. When he wakes 
in the morning he is the rising sun, and the members 
of his household salute him as they would Ha. ' Turn 


thy face to me, oh, rising Sun, which lightens the 
world with thy beauty ; disk sparkling amongst men, 
that drivest away the darkness of Egypt. Thou re- 
semblest thy father when he rises in heaven, and thy 
rays penetrate into all lands. There is no place 
deprived of thy beauty, for thy words rule the 
destinies of all lands. When thou art resting in thy 
palace thou hearest all that is said in every country, 
for thou hast millions of ears. Thine eye is more 
brilliant than any star of heaven, and sees better than 
the sun. If any one speak, even if the mouth that 
speaketh be within the walls of a house, its words 
reach thine ear. If any hidden action be committed, 
thine eye perceives it, oh ! king, gracious lord, who 
givest to all the breath of life.'* 

Each movement, each official act of the sovereign 
resembles an act of worship, celebrated midst the chant- 
ing of solemn hymns. If he grants an audience, the 
subject whom he admits to the favour of gazing upon 
his face approaches him with a formula of devout ado- 
ration. If he summons a council for any business, the 
nobles of the kingdom open the deliberation by a kind of 
religious service in his honour. Imagine Hameses II. 
seated upon his large golden throne, wearing a 
diadem adorned with two feathers, seeking for some 
means of facilitating the access of caravans to the gold 
mines situated in Nubia, between the Nile and the Red 
Sea. The convoys entrusted with the carriage of the 
gold humbly complain that they can find no spring, no 
pool, on the road they are forced to take. ' One half 
of them, with their asses, die of thirst upon the way, 
for they have no means of carrying sufficient water for 
the journej 7- there and back/ The councillors enter the 
presence of the good god, their arms raised in an adoring 
attitude; they fall prostrate upon their faces, and remain 

* This hvmn to the king is addressed to Minephthah in the 
Papyrus Avastasi, No. IV. ; to his son Seti II. in the Papyrus 
Anastasi, No. II. 


in thai position whilst the business is explained to them. 
The desolate aspect of the country is graphically de- 
scribed, and they are asked whether it is desirable to 
dig wells at intervals along the road ? Their reply 
is not long deferred : ' Thou resemblest Ra ! ' they all 
exclaim together ; ' thou resemblest Ra in all that thou 
doest, therefore the wishes of thine heart are always 
fulfilled ; if thou desire something during the night, 
at dawn it is already there. We have seen many mira- 
cles that thou hast accomplished since thou hast risen 
as king of the world, and we hear of nothing, our eyes 
see nothing elsewhere that can rival them. Every 
word that issues from thy mouth is like the words of 
Harmachis ! * Thy tongue weighs, thy lips measure 
more justly than the truest balance of Thoth.f What 
is unknown to thee ? Who is there perfect like unto 
thee ? Where is the spot thou canst not see ? There 
is no foreign country that thou hast not visited, and 
thine activity hastens to a place if thine ears attract 
thine attention towards it. Now, since thou art the 
vicar of the gods in this country, thou rulest its des- 
tinies. Still in embryo, in thy dignity as child-heir, 
thou wast told all that concerned Egypt. A little boy, 
with the tress still hanging over thy temple, no monu- 
ment was built without thy direction, no business 
transacted without thy knowledge, and thou wast the 
supreme head of the soldiers. A youth of ten years 
old, all the public works were made by thy hand, for 
thou laidest the foundations of them. If, therefore, thou 
sayest to the water, * Come up upon the mountain/ 
the celestial water will soon flow at thy word, for thou 
art Ra incarnate, Khepera created in the flesh; thou art 
the living image of thy father Tmu, lord of Helio- 

* Horus upon the morning horizon and Horus upon the evening 
horizon : sunrise and sunset. 

t Thoth weighed the actions of men hefore Osiris ; he watched 
that the scales were correct, and adjusted the bar so that all error 
should be avoided. 


polis; the god who commands is in thy mouth, the 
god of wisdom is in thine heart, thy tongue is the 
sanctuary of Truth, a god sits upon thy lips, thy words 
are accomplished every day, and the wish of thine heart 
realises itself, like that of Ptah when he creates his 
. works. Since thou art eternal, everything acts ac- 
cording to thy designs, and everything obeys thy 
words, sire, our master!' 

When the chorus of councillors have ended their 
speech, the Viceroy of Ethiopia, from whom the gold 
mines are held, speaks in his turn: ' The land is there- 
fore in this condition, water has been lacking there 
since the reign of Ra ; the people die of thirst ; all the 
preceding kings have wished to dig wells there, but 
their efforts have failed; the King Seti I. even caused 
borings to be made for a well to a depth of one hun- 
dred and twenty cubits, but it was left unfinished 
because no water was found ! But thou, if thou say est 
to thy father the Nile, father of the gods, " Raise the 
water to the height of the mountain ! " he will obey 
thy words, even as all thy projects have been accom- 
plish "d in our presence, although no one had ever 
heard of such deeds, even in the songs of the poets, 
for thy fathers, the gods, love thee more than all the 
kings that have existed since Ra.' Rameses, convinced 
by this speech, gives his orders, labourers are set to 
work, and a well is dug at a suitable spot.* This is 
one example amongst a thousand of suitable language 
to be used when any one has the perilous honour of 
raising his voice in Pharaoh's presence ; no business, 
however unimportant it may be, can be brought before 
him without a lengthy memorandum of his superhuman 
origin and of his personal divinity. 

The other gods reserve heaven for themselves. 

* These speeches and the history of the well are taken from a 
stele of Barneses II., dated the third year of his reign, and erected at 
Kouban at the entrance of the road which leadfl from the Nile to the 
mines of Etbaye. 


Pharaoh possesses the earth ; not only the land of 
Egypt, but the whole earth. If, beyond the valley of 
the Nile, there be peoples who claim to be independent, 
or kings who refuse to bow before him, they are rebels, 
' children of rebellion,' who will be punished sooner 
or later, and who will pay for their hour's liberty by 
eternal ruin. Their chiefs are styled vanquished, 
their country vile. In the deeds of the royal chan- 
cellery the current expression for the prince of the 
Hittites and the small kingdoms of Ethiopia is the 
Conquered KJnta and Cash the vile. Bat the earth is 
not integral ; it is divided by the course of the sun 
into two equal parts, or, rather, into two earths, the 
Northern, or night earth — the Southern earth, or earth 
of day. Egypt is the same. Tradition relates that in 
the ancient days it was at first a single empire, over 
which four gods, Ha, Shu, Sibou, and Osiris, reigned in 
turn. Osiris was treacherously killed by his brother, 
Set ; his son, Horus, rose against the assassin, and the 
war raged until the day on which Sibou maple an 
amicable division of the country between the two rivals. 
Set received the valley, Horus the Delta, with Mem- 
phis as its capital, and each of these two halves hence- 
forth possessed a different king and its own emblems. 
The protecting goddess of the Delta is a serpent, 
Uatchit ; that of Said a vulture, Nekhelbit. The crown 
of the North is red, that of the South is white. 
The papyrus was the symbolical plant of the North, 
the lotus that of the South. This separation into 
two states was not prolonged beyond the divine 
dynasties ; since Menes, * the half belonging to Horus 
and the half belonging to Set ' have always been, at 
least theoretically, governed by the same sovereign. 

In truth, the union is purely personal, and the two 
Egypts have only one king, without ceasing on that 
account to be two distinct Egypts. The sovereign is 
the king of the South and the king of the North, 
the master of the Southern vulture and of the pro- 


tecting uraeus. His crown, the pschent, is a com- 
posite arrangement of the red and white diadems. The 
lower sides of his throne are decorated with the lotus 
and papyrus bound together, or by two figures of the 
Nile god, who binds the two symbolical plants together 
by a great effort of the legs and arms. But, instead of 
the unity of the king at last producing the unity of 
the country, the dualism of the country produced an 
absolute duplication of the king, of all the objects that 
belonged to him, and of all the departments of the State. 
The palace is formed of two palaces joined together. 
It is therefore called Piraoui, the ' double great house/ 
and from this word the name of Pharaoh, so often 
heard on the lips of the people, is also derived. The 
Egyptian calls his master ' The double great house,' 
as others call their sovereign the ' Sublime Porte. ' 
The royal treasury is the double house of silver and 
gold. Each of the granaries, in which the tax - re- 
ceivers place the taxes in cereals, is the double granary. 
The corn, even when gathered in the same field, be- 
comes the corn of the North and of the South. During 
a ceremony Pharaoh wears the crown of the South, and 
all that he offers to the gods is from the South, even to 
the wine and the incense ; a few minutes later he 
places the crown of the North upon his brow, and 
offers incense and wine from the North. Still, his 
usual insignia are those of the gods, his parents. Like 
them, he bears the animal-headed sceptres, the hook, 
the scourge, the feathered head-dress, the two flaming 
horns, the emblem of light. The serpent which erects 
itself upon his forehead, the uraaus of gold or gilded 
bronze alwa} T s attached to his head-dress, is impreg- 
nated with mysterious life, which renders it the in- 
strument of the royal anger and the executioner of 
secret designs. It is said, that it vomits flames and 
destroys in battle any one who dares to attack the 
king. It communicates supernatural virtues to the 
white and red crowns, and changes them into ma* 


gicians or fairies (oirithaqaou) , whom no one can 

Man by his body, god by his soul and by his attri- 
butes, through his double essence Pharaoh holds the 
privilege of being the constant intermediary between 
heaven and earth. He alone has naturally the position 
which enables him to transmit to the gods, his brothers, 
the prayers of men. When any one wishes to influence 
the invisibles in favour of a living or of a dead man, 
he does not address himself directly to Osiris, Ptah, 
or Mentu, for the request would not reach them ; he 
takes Pharaoh for his mediator, and offers the sacrifice 
through his hands. His personal intervention is usually 
a devout fiction, and the ritual does not exact it, but 
the ceremony commences with the proclamation that 
the King gives the offering — Souton di hotpou — to Osiris, 
to Ptah, to Mentu, in order that these gods should 
grant the wishes of such-and-such an individual, and 
this declaration replaces the fact. Whenever a favour 
is requested from a god, or an ex voto is dedicated to 
him, the suppliant or thanksgiver shelters himself by 
using the king's invocation ; there are probably not 
two funeral inscriptions out of a hundred which do not 
commence with the formula, Son ton di hotpou, or which 
do not contain it. The gods, on their side, are in 
perpetual and direct communication with Pharaoh, by 
all the means at their disposal. They appear to him 
in dreams, to counsel him to make war against various 
peoples, to forbid him to take part in a battle, to 
command him to restore a monument which is falling 
into ruins. Whilst Thothmes IV. was still only prince 
roj^al, he frequently hunted the lion and gazelle in 
that part of the desert which lies to the west of 
Memphis, attended by only one servant. One day, 
when accident had led him to the neighbourhood of the 
Great Pyramid, he placed himself for the midday siesta 
beneath the shadow of the great Sphinx, the image of 
the powerful Khepera, the god towards whom all the 



houses of Memphis and all the cities of the neighbour- 
hood raise their hands in adoration and make their 
offerings. The Sphinx was at that time more than 
half buried, and its head only issued from the sand 
(Fig. 30). When the prince was asleep, the god spoke 
to him as a father to his son : ' Look at me, contem- 
plate me, my son Thothmes, for I am thy father, 
Harmarchis Khepera Tmu, who promises the sove- 
reignty to thee, for thou shalt wear the two crowns, 

Fig. 30. — The Great Sphinx buried in the Sand. 

the white and the red, upon the throne of Seb, the 
sovereign of the gods.* The sand of the mountain is 
covering me ; recompense me for all my blessings by 
fulfilling my wishes. I know that thou art my son, 
my defender : come near, I am with thee, I am thy 
beloved father.' The prince, when he awoke, under- 
stood that the god had foretold his future royalty, and 
had requested as the thank-offering for his accession the 
promise that his statue should be excavated. As soon 

* Seb is the Earth-god, the husband of Nut, the goddess of Heaven. 


as lie ascended the throne Thothmes remembered his 
dream, and ordered the sand to be cleared away from 
the great image. The stele which he placed between 
its feet is still visible, and relates the vision to all who 
pass by. 

The prophetic dream is not, however, the method 
usually employed by the gods in manifesting themselves 
to Pharaoh ; their statues in the temples serve as their 
interpreters. Since they are animated by one of their 
doubles, they can speak when they like. Amen raised 
his voice in the shadow of the sanctuary and com- 
manded the queen, Hatshepset, to send a fleet to the 
land of Punt, to fetch incense for the sacrifices. As 
a rule, the statues do not speak ; they content them- 
selves with gestures. When questioned upon any 
subject, if no movement is given their answer is nega- 
tive ; if, on the other hand, they decidedly bow the 
head twice, the affair is good and they approve of it. 
When Pharaoh is at Memphis he consults Ptah ; at 
Thebes he consults Amen, and the animated statue of 
Amen decides the most important questions. Pameses, 
upon reaching the Governor's house, stops for a moment, 
and sends a message by one of the chamberlains who 
accompany him : ' Let Psarou come, without delay, 
to deliberate with his Majesty upon Syrian affairs/ 
Psarou bows low, in token of obedience, gets into his 
chariot, whichr happens to be already harnessed, and 
quickly joins the procession on its way to the temple 
(Fig. 31). Two runners, at full speed, clear the road 
with voice and gesture, and oblige the crowd to stand 
back against the wall, so as to leave a passage for the 
sovereign. Behind them, in groups with their officers, 
maroh some thirty soldiers of different regiments of 
the guard, standard-bearer and fan-bearer, mace-bearers 
carrjdng the long scourge of war, lancers armed with 
spear, axe, and shield, auxiliary barbarians, easily 
recognised by their costume and complexion. Pharaoh 
follows them alone in his chariot, a little in advance 












of the queen, Nefertari (Fig. 32). She is still a 
young woman, with delicate, regular features, already 
faded and wrinkled under her powder. Like her 
husband, she wears a long robe, its folds, through the 
rapid motion, floating behind her. A large escort of 
princes and great dignitaries follow the royal pair, 
their number being continually augmented by fresh 
arrivals. Every one carries a fan, and stands in a 
chariot driven by a groom. The crowd cheers 

Fig. 32. — The Queen in her Chariot behind Pharaoh. 

Pharaoh as he passes, and tries to guess the reason 
of his morning's drive. ' He is going to offer sacrifice 
to Mut!' 'He is going to inaugurate the chapel of 
Chonsu! , 'A, messenger has arrived from Syria!' 'A 
post has arrived from Ethiopia!' Pharaoh, however, 
pursues his way, careless of the emotion he excites. 
In a few minutes he turns to the right, enters an 
avenue bordered with sphinxes of sandstone, and the 
temple of Amen rises before him, dwarfing the sur- 
rounding houses by its size. 



The temple is the house of god — History of the temple of Amen at 
Thebes — The king in the hypostyle hall — Amen the judge as the 
last resort — Thothmes the head of the granary-keepers and the 
patrimony of the god — Pillage of the god's granaries — Solemn 
council held in the temple — Amen gives judgment — A messenger 
from Syria and a dispatch in cuneiform writing : war is declared 
— The sacrifice of the bull — The ritual of the sacrifice and the 
Khri-habi — Amen promises victory to the king. 

The temple is the house of the god, in which he dwells 
body and soul. At first, like the house of men, it con- 
sisted of a single narrow, gloomy room, but instead of 
a terrace, it was covered with a slightly convex roof, 
which slanted backwards ; two great masts framed the 
opening, to which streamers were fastened, so as to 
attract the attention of the faithful at a distance, and 
an enclosure guarded with palisades extended before the 
facade. In the interior were found mats, low tables of 
stone, wood, and metal, some vessels to receive the 
blood, wine, and water, the liquids which were daily 
brought to the god. When the offerings for sacrifice 
increased, the number of rooms increased also, and 
chambers reserved for the flowers, stuffs, precious 
vases, and food were grouped round the original build- 
ing, so that the primitive temple became only the 
sanctuary of the temple, the mysterious tabernacle of 
the sovereign god. 

It is not more than two thousand years since 


Thebes rose from obscurity.* Its first great kings, 
the Amenemhats and Usertsens, built there, in honour 
of Amen, a rather shabby edifice of white calcareous 
stone and sandstone with granite doors ; pillars with 
sixteen sides decorated the interior. At that time 
Amen was only a poor provincial god, less esteemed 
and less popular than his neighbours, Mentu of Her- 
monthis or Minou of Coptos. A small temple sufficed 
for his worship, and a small estate provided for his 
sacrifices. His authority increased during the long 
centuries that followed, and when the Pharaohs of the 
eighteenth dynasty drove out the Hyksos, and reigned 
over the world without a rival, Amen acquired the 
sovereignty over the gods of the other cities, Egyptian 
or foreign, and his former house became too small for 
his new position. So many ancient souvenirs were 
attached to it, that it was carefully preserved from 
destruction, and was surrounded by a circle of new 
temples, which render this monument the largest we 
yet know. In front of the original facade, Thothmes I. 
built two chambers preceded by a court and flanked 
by isolated chapels ; then arranged in proportion, one 
behind the other, three of those monumental gateways 
accompanied by towers, that are called pylons. Thoth- 
mes III. constructed immense halls towards the west. 
Amenophis III. added a fourth pylon of enormous 
height and width- to those of Thothmes I. Lastly, 
Rameses I. and Seti I. employed their reigns in 
building the hall of columns, which joins the pylon 
of Amenophis III. It measures fifty metres long, by 
one hundred wide (Fig. 33). In the centre stands an 
avenue of twelve columns with bell-shaped capitals, the 
highest ever used in the interior of a building ; in the 
lower sides, one hundred and twenty- two columns with 

* It must be remembered that this narrative is placed at the com- 
mencement of the reign of Kameses II., in the middle of the 
fourteenth century before our era. The accession of the twelfth 
dynasty took place between 3200 and 3400 B.C., and that of the 
first Theban dynasty about the eleventh, two centuries earlier. 

-r7\o c m e«^(j^i «^, 

Fig. 33.— Entrance to the Hypostyle Hall of the Temple of 
Amen at Karnak. 


lotiform capitals are arranged in nine rows of quincim.^ 
The ceiling of the central hall is twenty- three metres 
above the ground, and the cornice of the two towers 
dominates this ceiling by about fifteen metres. Seti 
died when the decoration of the walls was scarcely half 
finished, and Rameses II. will not succeed in com- 
pleting it unless he reigns long enough to be a cen- 

Pharaoh is received before the door by two priests 
with bare feet and shaven heads. They prostrate them- 
selves whilst he alights from his chariot, then rise 
and silently await his commands. * Is the high priest 
of Amen in the temple ? ' ' The high priest of Amen 
is in the temple.' ' Let him come here at once.' ' He 
cannot come at once. Amen, this morning, is giving 
his solemn judgment upon the business of the royal 
scribe, the overseer of the granaries, Thothmes, and 
the high priest is now before the sanctuary of the god/ 
Pharaoh throws a preoccupied glance through the door, 
and perceives the central triforium of the hypostyle 
hall half filled with a motionless crowd. At the ex- 
treme end of it, above the heads of the people, three 
sacred arks are visible in a ray of sunlight, which 
falls obliquely from the ceiling. The eldest of the 
priests adds that the ceremony is nearly over ; the 
first prophet will be free in half an hour at the 
latest. Pharaoh enters the temple and proceeds to 
the left aisle pf the hall. Tli temple slaves at once 
bring him a large gilt throne, lined with various 
fancy cushions, raised upon feet, and provided with a 
footstool (Fig. 34). He seats himself with Nefertari at 
his side. The majority of the escort, soldiers and messen- 
gers, remain outside the temple and guard the chariots. 
The princes and dignitaries follow the king, and 
group themselves behind him, standing amongst the 
columns in the order prescribed by etiquette. The 

* In fact, Barneses died nearly a centenarian, in the sixty-seventh 
year of his reign. 



Fig. 34.— The royal 

solemn silence, broken for a moment by the arrival of 

the procession, reigns once more. Pharaoh, lost in the 

angle of the hall, separated from 

the crowd by the close rows of 

columns, might believe himself 

alone in the house of his father, 

Amen, if echo did not from time 

to time bring him some fragment 

of religious melody or the light 

rustle of a fly-flap. 

The gods have sometimes to 
judge a lawsuit in which religion 
only is concerned. It happens 
that a theologian, through con- 
stant meditation upon the nature 
of the divinities, forms opinions 
that are opposed to the dogmas ; if 
he ventures to express them, above 
all, if he has the misfortune to 
make a few proselytes, the sacerdotal college to which 
he belongs summons him to appear before the statue 
of the god, who excommunicates him, and if necessary 
condemns him to die by fire. The case of the scribe 
Thothmes does not refer to heresy ; no point of doc- 
trine is in question, and the accused has never in- 
timated any wish to deviate from the regular obser- 
vances of the ritual. Since he is a priest, and even of 
high rank, we must believe that he is versed in 
theology ; but he is also the Overseer of the granaries 
of Amen, and it is in this capacity that he is now 
called upon to give an account of his conduct. 

In fact, the gods are great nobles, who possess pro- 
perty, and maintain a large number of servants to 
manage it. Their temples must be enlarged, repaired, 
preserved in good order, like the palace of a prince. 
Their statues require furniture, clothes, and jewels ; 
the doubles that dwell in them cannot live without 
daily food ; they have also their servants, the priests, 


whose living and comfort, if not wealth, must be 
assured. These things are all provided for at the 
foundation of each temple by gifts of land, cattle, 
slaves, and divers revenues, which form their personal 
patrimony, and which they repay by prayers or by 
perpetual sacrifices to the memory of the donor. This 
patrimony, once given, remains inalienable by law, 
and is continually augmented by legacies and new 
donations. Houses are added to houses, fields to fields, 
revenues to revenues, and inheritance by mortmain — 
what is called the offerings of the god, Hotpou noutir — 
would at last absorb the whole territory and per- 
sonal property of Egypt if the king or the feudal 
nobles did not confiscate a portion of it from time to 
time, under cover of a civil war or of a foreign inva- 
sion. Since the accession of the eighteenth dynasty, 
Amen has profited more than any other god, perhaps 
even more than Pharaoh himself, by the Egyptian vic- 
tories over the peoples of Syria and Ethiopia. Each 
success has brought him a considerable share of the 
spoil collected upon the battle-fields, indemnities levied 
from the enemy, prisoners carried into slavery. He 
possesses lands and gardens by the hundred in Thebes 
and the rest of Egypt, fields and meadows, woods, 
hunting-grounds, and fisheries ; he has colonies in 
Ethiopia or in the oases of the Libyan desert, and at 
the extremity of the land of Canaan there are cities 
under vassalage to him, for Pharaoh allows him to 
receive the tribute from them. The administration of 
these vast properties requires as many officials and 
departments as that of a kingdom. It includes innu- 
merable bailiffs for the agriculture, overseers for the 
cattle and poultry, treasurers of twenty kinds for the 
gold, silver, and copper, the vases and valuable stuffs; 
foremen for the workshops and manufactures, engineers, 
architects, boatmen ; a fleet and an army which often 
fight by the side of Pharaoh's fleet and army. It is 
really a State within the State. 



Thothmes is one of the most important of these 
stewards. He manages the double granaries of Amen 
at Thebes, and all the wheat, barley, dhoura, and other 
grains, which the god cultivates himself or which he 
levies as a tax from his subjects, necessarily pass 
through his hands. The granaries in which he stores 
them are large brick buildings, containing high, 
narrow, vaulted rooms, placed side by side, but with- 
out any means of inter - communication (Fig. 35). 
They have but two openings, one at the top, by which 
the grain is put in, the other on the level of the 

Fig. 35.— The Granaries: Registering and Storing the Grain. 

ground, by which it is taken out. The corn, placed 
in heaps in the entrance court, is measured by sworn 
coopers, under the superintendence of a guardian ; a 
crier announces each bushel, and a scribe registers it. 
As soon as one heap is finished, some labourers carry 
it away in rush baskets and store it under the direction 
of a warehouseman. Sometimes a movable ladder 
enables the workmen to reach the upper hole in each 
cell, sometimes the cells are surmounted by a terrace 
which is rendered accessible by a brick staircase. 
Thothmes knows the amount that each granary con- 
tains, the quantity of corn that has been deposited 
in it, and how much is daily taken from it; what 
the present year's harvest produced, and the amount 


left in the granaries from the crop of the preceding 
years. Dishonest or negligent, he could purloin or 
allow the god to lose an enormous portion of his 
revenue, without any chance of immediate detection. 

Until lately the honesty of Thothmes had never 
been even questioned, and his life had been unstained ; 
but last year a rumour spread that strange irregu- 
larities had been and were being committed in his 
department. Allusions were made to frauds in the 
reception and distribution of the corn, of falsified 
measures, of incorrect accounts in the registers, of 
thefts from the storehouses, committed with so much 
impudence that the unknown culprits must have felt 
sure of the ta^it complicity, if not of the active co- 
operation, of the official guardians. 

A certain granary, which contained two thousand 
bushels of dhoura when it was closed, had only twelve 
hundred bushels in it when it was opened three months 
later, and no one could account for the deficiency. 
The workmen had seen nothing amiss, and they pre- 
tended not to understand what was going on. They 
threw the responsibility from one to the other, and 
without positively accusing any one, they insinuated 
that the culprits must be searched for amongst their 
superiors if there were any real wish to discover them. 
Suspicion was soon directed towards Thothmes, and 
although vague at first, it speedily acquired so much 
strength that the chief prophet resolved to try the case 
before the judgment- seat of Amen. 

The prophetic statues of the gods are usually con- 
cealed in the depths of the sanctuary. When they are 
brought out upon the solemn festivals, to be carried in 
state round the temple and sometimes through the city, 
their permission is first humbly requested. If the 
statue approve of the excursion, it acquiesces by a 
sign of the head ; the ark upon which it rests is 
lifted up, and the procession starts. If it remain 
passive, the priests conclude that it is unwilling to 


show itself, and an inquiry is made as to the motive 
which induces it to deprive the people of its presence. 
On the day of the festival of Thebes the statue of 
Amen refused to go out. Its displeasure was attri- 
buted to the malpractices of which it had been the 
victim, and Thothmes was summoned for trial. If he 
were found guilty, he would be probably beheaded, or 
at least he would suffer imprisonment and confiscation. 
The inquiry, although strictly made, proved that he 
was innocent. Twenty of the warehouse-keepers and 
scribes had combined, first, to abstract a few measures 
of corn, which they divided between them ; then, 
emboldened by success, they half emptied the granaries 
to which they were attached. Drawn too far by their 
cupidity, and feeling that discovery was imminent, they 
had endeavoured to save themselves by throwing sus- 
picion upon their chief. The innocence of Thothmeswas 
proved, and the god who had instigated the trial fixed 
a day upon which his decision would be publicly given. 
This morning, therefore, the chief prophet, Baknik- 
honsou, his feet bare, his head shaven, a white scarf 
across his shoulders, penetrated into the sanctuary with 
Thothmes, and paused upon the silver soil opposite the 
ark of Amen. The Egyptian divinities regulate their 
lives according to the nature of the country they 
inhabit. Their ark is always a boat, a real boat, 
raised at each end, built with sufficient strength for 
navigation. It is launched upon the sacred lake of the 
temple several times a year, when certain mysterious 
rites, known only to the priests, are celebrated. That 
of Amen bears a ram's head in front and behind, sur- 
mounted by the solar disk and ornamented by a large 
round collar (Fig. 36). It is placed upon a litter, 
which rests upon a square, richly decorated pedestal. 
A cabin called a naos rises in the centre, and serves as 
the usual dwelling-place of the prophetic statue ; a 
long white drapery, fastened at the back, falls over 
the sides of the naos, and half conceals it. A human- 



headed sphinx, upright upon a stand, guards the prow ; 
a man's figure, standing at the stern, moves the large 
oar-helms ; and statuettes, standing or kneeling in 
different postures, represent the king in adoration 
before his divine father. 

Baku ikhon sou respectfully opens the door of the 
naos, and the statue is visible; it is gilded, but the 
bur and th? beird are black, the enamelled oves 

Fig. 36. —The Ark of Amen, borne by his Priests. 

glitter in the shadow. The priest burns a few grains 
of incense, takes two rolls of sealed paper, places them 
upon the hands of the idol, and says in a clear voice, 
' Amen-ra, my good master, here are two books before 
thee. One of them says that Thothmes the scribe 
must be prosecuted, that he is guilty ; the other says 
that Thothmes the scribe must not be prosecuted, for 
he is innocent. Thou canst distinguish right from 
wrong; choose according to the right/ The god 
makes a sign that he consents, and seizes the roll which 
says : ' Thothmes, son of Souaamon, should not be 
prosecuted, for he is innocent.' The chief prophet 


continues, l The scribe Thothmes has then found 
favour before Amen-ra, ray master. My good lord 
god, grant that he be not executed by the sword, 
that he be not thrown into prison, that he be not 
punished by the confiscation of his property' — and the 
god approves; ' grant that he be reinstated in his 
dignities, and that he resume his position as chief 
steward of the granaries.' Again the god signifies his 
approval. Instantly fifteen priests raise the ark, and 
placing it upon their shoulders, carry it through the 
chambers and courts of the temple to the entrance of 
the hypostyle hall, where the ark of the goddess Mut 
and that of the child- god Chonsu join them. The 
ceremony recommences in the presence of the crowd. 
The god, again consulted, once more proclaims the 
innocence of Thothmes and his reinstalment in his 
functions. ' If any one, whoever he may be, say 
to Thothmes, son of Souaamon, " Thou wrongfully 
occupiest a post near to Amen-ra," the chief prophet 
of Amen-ra, the king of the gods, the great god, who 
existed before all things, will make this individual 
appear before the god, for it is the god himself who 
has established Thothmes in his dignity when he 
was solemnly enthroned in the temple.' Henceforth 
Thothmes is safe from all persecution ; whoever would 
throw the past in his face will be exposed to the 
anger of the god.* The three shrines move slowly 
away and return to their gloomy chambers, the crowd 
retires noiselessly, and Baknikhonsou hastens to prostrate 
himself before Pharaoh. His life has been entirely 
passed in the temple, where he now commands as 
master: a priest at sixteen, a divine father at twenty, f 

* The long inscription in which this lawsuit is related is so much 
mutilated in some places that the meaning is not always clear. I 
have abridged some of the details, and have endeavoured to restrict 
my narrative to almost certain facts. 

+ The title of divine father marked, as we pee, one of the inferior 
grades of the sacerdotal hierarchy in the temple of Amen. No one 
knows what offices belonged to it. 



third prophet at twenty-two, second prophet at forty* 
seven. Rameses promoted him to be first prophet a few 
months after his accession. The pontificate of Amen is 
by universal consent the most important of the three 
high religious dignities of Egypt, Those of Ra at 
Heliopolis and of Ptah at Memphis were superior for a 
long time ; but now the priest of Amen takes the lead, 
and exercises almost unlimited power over the whole 
country. Rameses raises Baknikhonsou and tells him 
the object of his visit. He has not finished speaking 
when an officer, breathless with the speed he has made, 
hurries into the temple ; the post from Syria has arrived, 
and is waiting at the door for his Majesty's orders 
Scarcely introduced into the royal presence, before 
he has time to fall down before Pharaoh, in accordance 
with etiquette, the sovereign addresses him, ' Who art 
thou ?' 'I belong to the Prince of Megiddo, and 
come from him with a message to your Majesty.' 
The message is written on a thick tablet of baked clay, 
covered on both sides with letters. Pharaoh, like the 
majority of well-born Egyptians, has understood the 
Aramean tongue from his childhood, but he cannot 
easily read the cuneiform characters. The Syrian 
interpreter belonging to the royal escort comes forwards 
takes the tablet from the messenger and reads it aloud. 
* To the king, my master, my sun, I, Abdadad, thy 
servant, I speak thus : Khitasir, the vanquished chief 
of the vile Khita, has broken the peace and the friend- 
ship which his fathers had made with thy fathers. 
He has forgotten the power of the gods, thy masters, 
and has assembled his generals, his infantry, his chariot 
soldiers ; he has marched against the prefects and the 
kings that thou hast established in every land to pay 
tribute to thee and to render homage to thy Majesty* 
He has advanced against them, he has killed their 
warriors, he has taken their flocks, and has led away 
their wives and children into captivity. I have, there- 
fore, sent spies into his camp, saying, "Go and see what 



the vile Khita is doing." And see, they found him 
established by the side of Kadesh, the city of the 
vanquished chief of Amaorou, with his impious allies. 
And know, my lord the king, my sun, that the chiefs 
of Girgashou, of Moushanit and of Aradou; the chiefs 
of Ilion, of Pedasos, of the Mysians, and of the Lycians, 
are with him, as well as the whole of the Naharanna. 
I pray my lord the king, my sun, to send as quickly as 
possible his archers and his chariots of war, for if he 
delay I shall be utterly destroyed.'* It is too late to 
consult the god as 

\ Jt^*4trMr^±^^-MM+^'}^^^+ \ 

to whether he 
wishes for war or 
not; war is de- 
clared, and Pha- 
raoh must leave at 
once and rejoin the 
army. He calls 
Psarou, commands 
him to take the 
necessary mea- 
sures for placing 
the contingent 
from Thebes and 
Said in the field, 
dispatches messen- 
gers to the King of 
Ethiopia to inform 
him of his depar- 
ture, then rises and 
goes into the cen- 
tre of the temple, 
where everything 
is ready for the sacrifice. The preliminaries are 
rapidly accomplished in the usual order. The statue 
is placed upright in front of the sanctuary, the 

* The letter from the Prince of Megiddo has been composed from 
the models of letters discovered at Tell-el-Amarna. 


Fig. 87.— Offering Red Water to the 
god Amen. 


face turned towards the outside. Pharaoh dresses it, 
perfumes it, and presents to it successively five grains of 
incense from the south, five grains of alum from the 
north, four vases of red water, four vases of ordinary 
water (Fig. 37). There is a reason for the number 
four predominating in the ceremonies. The world is 
divided into four regions, or rather, to use the technical 
term, into four houses, which respond to our cardinal 
points, and are placed under the protection of different 
divinities. The king pays equal homage to them all, 
and each time consecrates one of the four parts of 
which the offering is composed, one for each house, or 
for each point of the horizon. 

The water poured out, Pharaoh promptly returns to 
the court, in front of the old edifice of Amenemhat, 
and receives from the hands of a priest a lasso of plaited 
leather: his eldest son, Amenhikhopshouf, stands behind 
him. Originally the sacrifice was a repast which the 
celebrant — king, prince, or simple citizen — was obliged 
to prepare and serve to the god with his own hands. 
He then went to the fields, lassoed the half- wild bull, 
bound it, killed it, burnt one portion before the idol, 
and distributed the remainder amongst those present 
with a profusion of cakes, fruits, vegetables, and wine : 
the god was present, both in his body and in his double ; 
he allowed himself to be dressed and scented, ate and 
drank of the best of all that was served upon the table. 
The use of the incense and of the water had prepared 
the prophetic statue for the banquet, as a guest is 
prepared by giving him water for washing, and by 
anointing him with perfumed ointments. The king 
is now ready for the chase. 

Time has gradually softened the roughness of the 
primitive rite; it has transformed, the originally genuine 
hunt and feast into a similitude of pursuit and of 
feasting. Rameses is not free from the necessity of 
catching the beast himself, but he is no longer required 
to go and seek it in its pasturage, at the risk of seeing 


it escape or of receiving a dangerous blow. The high 
sacrifice which is celebrated on solemn occasions origin- 
ally comprised four victims ; the spirit of economy 
usually reduces the number to two, or even to one 
only, which is then called the Bull from the South. 
The servants of the temple lead it with a halter to the 
appointed place, and then attach the light horn to the 
right hind leg, throwing the bead slightly back by 
passing the cord over the left shoulder, so as to hamper 
the animal's movements, and to almost paralyse tbe 
neck if it endeavours to use its horns. This done, it 
is pricked, and as soon as it starts, the prince royal 
seizes it by the tail with both hands, and Rameses 
throws the lasso over its horns (Fig. 38). As it stops, 
startled by this attack, and unable to understand what 

Fig. 38. — The King lassoes the sacrificial Bull. 

has happened, the priests rush »'pon it, throw it down, 
and tie the four legs together (Fig. 39). Now Pharaoh 
has armed himself with a long, straight, plain stick, 
without any ornaments, and with a light club, tipped 
with white stone, a memorial of the club with which 
his ancestors struck down their prey. As soon as the 
victim is ready, he extends the club over it, as though 
about to strike (Fig. 40). The sacred butcher at once 
opens its throat from one ear to the other ; one of the 



assistants receives the blood in a copper basin and 
places it, still warm, in front of the statue; others, 
with a few blows from the knife, cut off the sacra- 
mental portions — the heart, the liver, the spleen, and 

w ^fr"rj- a "^ 

Fig. 39. — The Priests throw down the Bull after the King has 

lassoed it. 

the leg (Fig. 41). Lastly, the pieces are hurriedly 
brought to the king (Fig. 42). Rameses offers them 
as they arrive, then heaps them upon the ground with 
loaves, cakes, fruits, and vegetables of all kinds. Amen 

has but to choose the dishes which 
he prefers from the food placed 
before him. 

These are only the outlines of 
the ceremony ; each act in it is 
accompanied by movements, ges- 
tures, and words, which the gods 
have condescended to regulate in 
detail. Before all else they exact 
material cleanliness. The cele- 
brant, whoever he may be, must 
carefully wash — ouabou — his face, 
mouth, hands, and body, and this 
purification is considered so neces- 
sary, that the priest derives from 
it his name of ouibou — the washed, the clean. The 
costume and head-dress vary according to the nature 
of the rite that is being celebrated ; frequently, even, 
it is modified several times in the course of a single 
service. A certain sacrifice, or a certain moment in a 

Fig. 40. — The King gives 
the Death Signal. 



sacrifice, requires sandals with raised points, a panther's 
skin over the shoulder, and the thick tress falling over the 
right ear ; in another the 
celebrant must be girded 
with cotton drawers and 
wear a jackal's tail, whilst 
he must take off his shoes 
before he commences the 
service, or sometimes put 
on an artificial beard. 
The nature, the hair, the 


Fig. 41. — Cutting up the Victim. 

age of the victim^ 
method of leading it, then of binding its limbs, the 
way of killing it, the order to be followed in opening 
and cutting up the body, are minutely and definitely 
prescribed, and are unalterable. 

Yet these are but the least exactions of the god, and 
the easiest to satisfy. The formulas which accompany 

each of the sacerdotal 
manipulations include a 
fixed number of words, 
which must not be modi- 
fied in either sequence or 
harmony, even by the god 
himself, or they would 
lose their efficacy. They 
are recited in a certain 
rhj^thm, to a melody in 
which each tone has some special virtue, accompanied 
by movements which confirm the meaning and exercise 
an irresistible influence over the god ; a false note, a 
discord between the succession of the gestures and the 
utterance of the sacramental words, any hesitation or 
blunder in the accomplishment of a single detail, and 
the whole sacrifice is nullified. The worship, there- 
fore, resembles a judicial action, in the course of 
which the god alienates a portion of his liberty in 
exchange for certain compensations in kind, of which 


Fig. 42.— The Priests bring the 
pieces of the Victim. 


the value and the character are determined by law. 
Rameses solemnly transfers to his father Amen the 
cakes, the bread, the pieces of beef, the fruits, by which 
he hopes to gain his attention and render him more 
favourable to his petition. If the king scrupulously 
observes the innumerable conditions by which the offer- 
ing is surrounded, Amen cannot avoid the obligation of 
fulfilling his prayer and of granting him the victory 
over the Khita ; if he omits the most insignificant of them 
all, the offering remains the perquisite of the temple, 
but Amen is not in any way bound towards him 

The celebrant, king or private individual, has there- 
fore a formidable responsibility towards his family ; a 
defect- of memory, or an involuntary impurity, renders 
him a bad priest, injurious to those who entrust him 
with the care of their interests before the gods. Since 
ritualistic perfection cannot be expected from a sovereign 
perpetually distracted by the business of the State, the 
errors he might commit, and which would annul the 
sacrifice, are averted by providing him with a master of 
the ceremonies — a prompter (khn-hahi) — who watches 
over the regulated evolutions round the statue and the 
victim ; points out the order of the gestures and of the 
changes of costume ; if necessary, whispers to Pharaoh 
the words of each invocation from a book which he 
holds in his hand, and recites the majority of the 
prayers for him. When the king officiates, it is usually 
the eldest of his'children who fulfils the duty of master 
of the ceremonies ; by his side Amenhikhopshouf, the 
panther's skin on one shoulder, the tress of hair hanging 
correctly over his temple, the right arm held out in 
front, declaims the Souton di hotpou over the pile of 
offerings arranged before Amen, whilst Rameses burns 
the incense and pours out a farewell libation. Amen 
graciously accepts the homage of his son. ' Go in 
peace, good god, master of the two Egypts, Ousirmari- 
sotpounri, for thou shalt be stronger than any foreign 
country, and shalt spread terror in the hearts of the 


barbarians.' The wars are not only between king and 
king, or people and people, but between god and god. 
When Pharaoh sturts for the army, he knows that he 
cannot triumph unless Amen enters the field with him; 
if Amen does not assist him personally, the foreign gods 
will easily overcome him and the Egyptians will be 
defeated. Amen is present upon the battle-fields ; his 
hand shelters the king, turns the arrows away from 
him, and guides the chariot into the midst of the fight, 
to scatter and decimate the battalions of the enemy. 
' I am here, my son, and I grant thy prayer. Thou 
shalt crush the princes of Zahi. I throw them under 
thy feet throughout their countries. I will cause them to 
see thy Majesty as a lord of light, when thou shinest 
over their heads like my image, the sun. — I am here, 
I promise that thou shaft crush the barbarians of Asia, 
and shalt lead the chiefs of the people of Ruten into 
captivity. They shall see thy Majesty adorned with 
thy panoply o£" war, when thou seizest thy weapons 
above the chariot. — I am here, I grant that thou shalt 
crush the land of the East ; the Phoenicians and Cyprus 
tremble before thee. They shall see thy Majesty like a 
young bull, strong of heart, armed with his horns, 
that nothing can resist. — I am come, I grant that 
thou shalt crush the peoples that dwell in their ports, 
and the regions of Mitani tremble for fear of thee. 
They shall see thy Majesty like the hippopotamus, lord 
of terror, upon the waters that no one may approach. — 
I am come, I grant that thou shalt crush the peoples 
who dwell in their islands, and those who live on the 
bosom of the sea are fascinated by thy roaring. They 
shall see thy Majesty like an avenger who stands on the 
back of his victim. — I am come, I grant that thou 
shalt crush the Tahonou, and the isles of the Danaens 
are in the power of thy friends. They shall see thy 
Majesty like a furious lion, that crouches over their 
corpses in the valley. — I am come, thou shalt crush 
the maritime countries, and all that surrounds the 


stream Ocean is bound to thy wrist. They shall see 
thy Majesty like the master of the wing, the hawk, 
that sees at a glance all that pleases him. — I am here, 
thou shalt crush the peoples of the marshes ; thou 
shalt bind the Bedouins, masters of the sands, as cap- 
tives. They shall see thy Majesty like a jackal of the 
south, lord of speed, the runner that roams over the 
two regions. — I am come, thou shalt crush the bar- 
barians of Nubia, and even to the people of Punt ; all 
is in thy hand. They shall see thy Majesty like thy 
two brothers, Horus and Set, whose two arms I have 
united to secure thy power/ * 

* This song of triumph appears to have been composed for 
Thothmes III., but it has become a kind of common property of all 
the Egyptian conquerors, and fragments of it are found applied to 
Seti I. or to Barneses III. For this reason I could apply it here to 
Rameses II. without any improbability. 




The barony of Apu and its lord Nakhtminou — The city, the Great 
Castle — The administrative services of the barony — The little 
love felt by the Egyptians for a military career — The recruitment 
— Hereditary soldiers and their fiefs — The Egyptian horse — The 
Egyptian war-chariots— Arming the soldiers — The distribution of 
provisions for the campaign — The Egyptian army and its 
composition : the Shairetana — Opinion of learned men upon 
military life. 

Psarou is not only count of the nome of Thebes, but 
chief governor of the Land of the South, that is to say, 
of almost the whole of Upper Egypt, of the neighbour- 
hood of Siout as far as the first cataract. He started 
the next day after receiving Pharaoh's commands to 
prepare everthing for the war, and levied his men and 
his provisions in one part of the nomes of his district, 
from Kousit and Coptos, from Denderah, the city of 
Hathor, and Tinis, where the Egyptian monarchy 
first took birth 4000 years ago. Since this morning 
his boat is moored in Apu,* the capital of the Panopoliti, 
where he is staying with the hereditary prince, 

In the olden times the great feudal families that 
divide the land of Egypt were almost independent, 
forming a number of secondary dynasties under the 
sometimes nominal suzerainty of Pharaoh. Since the 

* Apu, named by the Greeks Khemmis or Panopolis,- is now 
Qmun-el-Khemim, commonly called Ekhmem, 

76 THE KE.'Rll I'M E.N V Ob THE ARMY. 

power has fallen into the energetic hands of the Theban 
kings, the chief barons have been obliged to restore the , 
almost sovereign power which they had usurped, and 
they are now only the hereditary governors of their 
fiefs, rich and respected for their nobility, but carefully 
watched by the king's officers and threatened with 
deposition, if not with death, at the least suspicion. 
Most of them cherish the secret hope that they will 
soon witness a revival of the old state of things ; a long 
minority, a succession of incapable kings, a revolution 
in the palace, an invasion by the maritime nations, or 
simply an unlucky war which would destroy the 
prestige of the dynasty, and enable them to reconquer 
their authority. In the meantime, some of them have 
taken office, and fill positions in the court near the 
person of Rameses; other, like Nakhtminou, live peace- 
fully upon their estates, dividing their time unequally 
between their pleasures and the duties of an adminis- 
tration which the jealous}' of the suzerain renders 
lighter every day. 

Apu is celebrated for its spinning mills.* Seen from 
the stream it produces an illusion of life and activity. 
Some thirty boats are scattered along the bank, about 
one hundred porters are loading or unloading them, sing- 
ing as they work ; higher up, the royal warehouses — the 
double white house — in which the corn, flax, fruits, stuffs, 
and cattle are r stored, crown the bank with their 
crenellated walls. An old city, indolent and silent, 
sleeps behind this foreground; narrow alleys, scarcely 
animated by the murmur of a few looms, are guarded 
at intervals by troops of emaciated dogs; there is 
a small market, clean and quiet, where some twenty 
contemplative merchants wait from morning until 
evening for customers who never seem to come. To 
the east the temple of Minou raises its imposing mass. 

* The spinning mills of Ekhmem still exist; their chief manufacture 
is a material with little blue and white checks of which the fellah 
women make their outer garment, the melayah. 


Towards the north-east beautiful bushy gardens, sepa- 
rated by deep moats which serve as canals during the 
summer, as roadways during the winter, produce a 
rampart of verdure between the houses and the country. 
The walls of the enclosures are garnished with wild 
brambles, of which the branches fall into the road, 
greatly endangering the faces of travellers. 

The usual residence of the prince, the Great Castle, 
is in the centre, a short distance from the river. It is 
built of masonry, rectangular, or nearly so, surrounded 
by a wall of unbaked bricks, high and thick, crenel- 
lated, with rounded merlons. An oblong court occu- 
pies the centre, closed to the west by the palace, bor- 
dered on the three other sides by arsenals, storehouses 
for the forage and provisions, as well as by smaller 
houses, in which the different officers of the various 
administrative departments of the principality and 
their respective chiefs are installed. It is really a 
fortress, capable of resisting a regular siege, in which 
the old lords of Apu have often held out against their 
rebellious subjects or against troops of Maaziou* Be- 
douins unexpectedly appearing from the desert ; even 
against the disciplined bands of Pharaoh. They have 
been sometimes reduced by famine, never by force. 
Nakhtminou, peaceful through necessity, if not by 
temperament, was engaged with his Overseer of 
Granaries when the arrival of Psarou was announced 
to him. Kach of the baronies, like Egypt itself, has 
its complete system of government, of which the 
prince is the natural head, and which he manages 
uncontrolled, except that he must perform all the ob- 
ligations of a vassal towards his suzerain — personal 
service, annual contributions in metals and in kind, 
and a military contingent, of which the importance 

* The Maaziou were Bedouins of Libyan origin. Their name, 
identified by a pun with the Arab word meazah (kid), is preserved in 
that of the Meazeh Bedouins, who are still found in Middle Egypt on 
both sides of the Nile. 


varies according to the extent of the fief and its popu- 
lation. We find then in the nome of Apu : a manager 
of the cattle, an overseer of agriculture, a steward of 
the granaries, a director of the warehouses, a director 
of the spinning mills, a military governor, an overseer 
of the bakeries, a state council in miniature where the 
notables of the province meet ; even a herald, who 
solemnly transmits the decrees of the noble lord to his 
subjects. Nakhtminou, who had known for some time, 
through a special messenger, of Psarou's business with 
him, had immediately taken all the measures which 
experience dictated to secure the execution of the royal 
orders, particularly of those relating to the militia. 

The Egyptian of pure race does not like the mili- 
tary profession, and the miseries endured by soldiers 
furnish literary men with inexhaustible subjects for 
their satire. They delight in describing him, ragged, 
hungry, and thirsty, ill-treated by Ids officers for the 
most trifling faults, and only escaping the arrows of 
the enemy to succumb to the fatigue of the long 
marches ; then, as a contrast to this unpleasant pic- 
ture, they depict the scribe — rich, respected, and in 
safety. Consequently, at the first rumour of war, at 
least half of the men, whose age renders them liable to 
serve, hasten to take refuge in the mountains, out of reach 
of the recruiting agents. They remain in hiding until 
the operations 'are over and the conscripts on their 
way ; they then return to their village, when a few 
well-placed gifts stop the indiscreet questions which 
might be asked as to their absence at such a critical 
moment. Nakhtminou has not given them time to resort 
to their traditional manoeuvre : upon the same day that 
the royal decree reached him, he sent orders that the 
levy of the contingent should be made. The heads of 
the villages, who are answerable for the zeal of their 
officials and whose property is security for their con- 
duct, at once seized all who were likely to fly, and for 
some weeks all the young men of Apu who could serve 


have been waiting in prison until it pleases Psarou 
to choose the tallest and strongest of them to send into 

Nakhtminou hastens to meet his guest, salutes him, 
and conducts him into the council hall. The usual 
ceremonies are not yet completed, and the notable 
men of the district are already arriving, one after the 
other, all clad in white robes. The day is passed in 
paying compliments, the evening in feasting, and all 
serious business is deferred until the morrow. Early 
in the morning Psarou and Nakhtminou instal them- 
selves at the back of the court under an open portico, 
where the sun will not annoy them. The military 
governor and his lieutenant are placed beside them ; 
the scribes, who register the recruits, bring their 
books and desks and squat down behind them, the 
kalam behind their ears ; a dozen chaouiches, half bailiffs, 
half executioners, stand on each side, stick in hand, 
ready to strike at the first sign. The country people 
have been assembled at the gates of the castle since 
daybreak, grouped by villages under the command of 
their mayors. At a gesture from Nakhtminou, the 
crier of the nome tells the door-keepers to let them 
in, and the first group appears. The mayor marches 
at their head, a kind of standard in one hand. When 
he reaches the prince and the emissary of Pharaoh, he 
bows and kneels down, whilst his people stand a few 
steps behind him, the spine bent, the arms swinging. 
One of the scribes indicates from the registers the 
population of the village, announces the number of 
able-bodied young men that it contains, and that of 
the recruits it should furnish ; then reads the names 
one after the other. Each man raises his hand as his 
name is called. If any one is missing, the governor 
questions the mayor : Is the absent man ill ? refrac- 
tory ? has he any occupation that exempts him from 
service, or any infirmity ? The mayor does his best 
to answer the questions, trembling in every limb, for 



a chaouiche stands by his side, and he is certain to be 
bastinadoed if Pharaoh's representatives do not accept 
his excuses (Fig. 43). Selection made, the future 
soldiers are separated from their companions and 
shut into one of the storehouses of the castle ; the 
others hasten back to their homes, rejoicing to be 
once more free with only a fright. 

The same formalities are repeated for every village 
in the barony of Apu. In spite of the zeal with which 
the scribes try to hasten the sad work, it lasts several 
days. There is nothing but marching past, roll-calls, 
and bastinadoes from morning till night. The rela- 

Fig. 43. — Before the Scribes. 

tions gather round the doors to await the result of 
the trial. The army never restores the men that it 
leads into the distant countries of Syria or Ethiopia. 
Those that it absorbs are mourned by their families 
as if they were dead. As soon as a group of villagers 
go out, the women hasten forward and try to dis- 
tinguish which of their relations are amongst them ; 
those whose husband, brother, or son does not reappear 
burst into sobs, throw dust upon their hair and face, 
and lament as they are accustomed to do at a funeral. 
At last, on the fifth day, Psarou inspects the conscripts 
himself, and releases those that he deems the least 
strong until the total contingent is reduced to the 
number of six hundred infantry, which the principality 
is bound to furnish to the king. 


This is the delicate point of the operation ; the rest 
is easily, almost mechanically, accomplished. In fact 
there are in each nome, by the side of the fellahs for 
whom military service is the result of chance, families of 
a higher class for whom it is an hereditary duty. Each 
of them holds a fief — either from the sovereign or 
from the lord of the manor — an estate of about eight 
acres, free of taxes, transmissible in a direct or colla- 
teral line, but always under the condition of military 
service. All the men are inscribed upon special 
registers, which are deposited with the commandant 
of the nome. In times of peace only a small number 
of them are annually called out to form the guard of 
the princes or of Pharaoh, but in time of war they 
all go unless they can find some legitimate excuse — 
infirmity, old age, or temporary illness. If the father 
be too old to go himself, he is replaced by his son or 
by his nearest relation. The levy of the army is 
usually made very rapidly, for if courage fail, interest 
ensures promptitude. If the vassals neglect to respond 
punctually to the lightest summons, their fief is for- 
feited, seized by order of the officials, and their family 
is reduced to poverty. 

The men are there ; they must now be equipped. 
In common life the Egyptian never carries arms ; only 
the shepherd who leads his flocks to lonely spots at 
the foot of the mountains has an iron-tipped stick or a 
javelin, a bow and arrows, a knife or a dagger, with 
which to defend himself against wild beasts or the 
Bedouins he may encounter. The material of war is 
guarded under seals in the State depots, that of the 
infantry in the house of weapons, that of the cavalry in 
the breeding studs. It is only recently that the horse 
has been known in Egypt ; the shepherds introduced 
it into the land, and they perhaps owe the incredible 
rapidity of their success to the terror which their steeds 
inspired in the first encounters with the Egyptians. 
The horses are usually strong and of good height. The 


forehead is convex, which gives a slightly curved and 
sheepish profile to the head. The neck is tapered, the 
croup thin and rather narrow, the thigh lean, the leg 
spare, the tail long and full. They resemble in all 
respects the horses always seen amongst Asiatic peoples, 
but it is only with great trouble that they can be pre- 
vented from becoming weak and degenerate. The 
climate enervates them, the season of the inundation 
does not agree with them, and the race has to be 
continually recruited with stallions and mares bought 
or taken from Syria. Thebes, Memphis, Hermopolis, 
most of the great cities of Middle Egypt, contain 
breeding studs. The possession of many chariots is 
the chief luxury of the nobles. Pharaoh encourages it 
as much as possible by rewarding the owners of well- 
kept stables, and reprimanding or even punishing those 
who do not take sufficient care of their animals. Apu 
has not more than fifty which are fit to enter the field. 
Its geographical position and the limited extent of its 
territory prevent it from furnishing a larger number. 
The chariots, like the horses, are of foreign origin ; 
the first were imported from Asia, but the Egyptian 
workmen soon learnt to make them more elegant, if 
not stronger, than their models. Lightness is their 
distinguishing quality ; one man can carry a chariot 
upon his shoulders with- 
out feeling tired by it. 
Only leather and wood 
are used in their con- 
struction ; a very small 
quantity of metal, gold or 
silver, iron or bronze, is 
admitted in the ornament- Fig. 44.— The Manufacture of the 
ation (Fig. 44). Some- Chariots, 

times the wheels have four 

or eight spokes, but the usual number is six. The axle 
is a thick, strong piece of acacia wood. Two pieces 
joined one above the other indicate the general form 


of the body, a half-circle, or rather a half-ellipsis, 
closed by a straight bar ; upon this framework is fixed 
a floor of sycamore wood, or a bottom of thongs of 
crossed leather. Light panels fill up the centre of the 
ellipsis, full in front, hollowed at the sides, and pro- 
vided with two curved supporting bars. The pole, 
which is all of one size, is connected with it at about 
one-fifth of its length. The large end is fixed in the 
centre of the axle, and the body is fixed upon it, like 
a gigantic T ; the back flat upon the axle, the front 
set, so to speak, in the curve of the pole ; a double 
thong of leather secures the solidity of the whole. A 
yoke, shaped like a bow, is attached to the free end of 
the pole, and serves to harness the horses. There are 

Fig. 45.— The Wrestling Match. 

generally three Asiatics in the same chariot ; but there 
are never more than two Egyptians — the warrior who 
fights and the coachman who drives the horses or holds 
the shield during the battle. 

The distribution of the weapons is a festival, 
which is made as brilliant as possible. When Pharaoh 
is present he remains from the beginning to the end ; 
everywhere else the royal officials or the nobles are 
proud to preside over it. All the men included in the 
levy from Apu assemble in the court of the castle, 
and arrange themselves in companies : the country 
recruits, the hereditary soldiers, and the chariot 
soldiers. They first go through all the marches and 
counter-marches usual in the army, races in groups, 
jumps in line, the sudden halt ; then the ranks are 
broken and the men engage in wrestling (Fig. 45). 



After one or two hours of this exercise, they resume 
their original positions ; the Director of the House of 
Weapons opens his storehouses and the distribution 
commences (Fig. 46). Only the kings, the princes, 
and a few foreign soldiers wear a helmet of iron or 

Fig. 46.— Distribution of Weapons to the Recruits. 

bronze and a leathern shirt, covered with bronze scales 
(Fig. 47). The Egyptians wear a striped handkerchief 
or a felt cap upon their heads ; a kind of oval apron, 
fastened to the waist-belt and formed of bands of 

Fig. 47.— Royal 

Cuirass. Fig. 48.— SMeld. 

leather sewn together, sometimes covers their stomachs 
and hips. The shield (Fig. 48) consists of a frame- 
work of light wood, square at the base, rounded at the 
top, covered with an ox-hide, and provided towards the 
centre with a metal plate about eight inches wide. It 
has only one handle, and forms a kind of movable 



rampart, which is held up with the left hand, and 
which requires great skill to render it of any use. The 
soldier, sheltering himself behind it, sees the enemy's 
arrow or javelin coming towards him, and tries to 
receive it on the metal point ; if he succeeds, it falls ; 
if he fails, it pierces the hide and perhaps his chest 
too. For the attack he has a spear, six feet long, 
a javelin, axe, club, bow and arrow, a dagger, 
short sword, and sometimes a knife, with a wide 
curved blade, the favourite weapon of the kings, 
which is called the khopshou. Each man receives from 
the hands of the storekeepers the equipment of the 
regiment to which he belongs, and the horsemen re- 

Fig. 49. — War-dance of the Archers. 

ceive from the Director of the H wse a chariot and two 
horses : the coachman harnesses them quickly and at- 
taches to the sides of the chariot two bow-cases, as well 
as two large quivers for the arrows and javelins. The 
distribution over, the manoeuvres recommence, but in 
a new direction. Twenty archers first execute the war- 
dance of the Maaziou Bedouins. They place themselves 
in line, give a sudden spring as they utter their war- 
cry, turn round, brandishing their weapons above their 
heads, lay their bows upon the ground and pick them 
up again with eccentric contortions — alternately ad- 
vance and retreat ; their comrades marking their 
movements by clapping their hands or by striking 
two boomerangs together (Fig. 49). When this 



wild scene has lasted long enough the march past 
commences. The chariots lead the way, then follow 
the light troops, bareheaded, without apron or 
shield, a bow in the left hand, the axe or the boom- 
erang in the right hand, the standard-bearer on 

Fig. 50. — The Light Troops Marching Past. 

the left, closing the ranks (Fig. 50). The heavy in- 
fantry follow to the sound of the trumpet, wearing 
the leather apron, the shield and spear on the left 
shoulder, the axe in the right hand ; the officers do 
not carry any weapons, and merely hold a commander's 

Fig 51.— The Line Infantry Marching Past. 

baton (Fig. 51). When all have passed, the officers 
and the standard-bearers leave their ranks and come 
forward to salute the prince kneeling (Fig. 52) : the 
festival is over. Early on the following morning the 
men come in search of their provisions for the march. 
The director of the stud has prepared rations of forage 



and grain for the horses. The chief baker has not 

wasted his time, but has cooked the amount of bread 

necessary for feeding the whole 

troop during a fortnight. It is 

scarcely bread, but a kind of 

round, flat, black cake, made of 

a very close paste, which dries 

rapidly, and becomes as hard as 

a stone ; it must be softened by 

soaking in water before it can 

be eaten. The soldiers arrive 

in squads ; each carries a small 

linen bag, in which he places 

the allotted ration (Fig. 53). A 

flotilla of large boats is awaiting them ; they crowd 

upon the bridge, amongst the horses, whilst the chariots 

and luggage are piled upon the roofs of the cabins. 

Fig. 52. — Saluting the 

Fig. 53.— The Soldiers fetching their Eations for the Campaign. 

In about a fortnight they will have rejoined the main 
army which Pharaoh has assembled at Zalu,* upon 
the eastern frontier of the Delta. 

It is composed of unequal numbers of Egyptians 
and foreigners : the latter are attached to the person 
of Rameses. Like most kings, Pharaoh likes to sur- 
round himself with a guard of barbarians, whose wild 

* Zalu, the Selle of the geographers of the Roman epoch, is now 
a mass of ruins at some distance to the west of the Suez Canal, near 
the station of El-Kantarah. 



physiognomy, strange weapons and costume, strike the 
imagination of his subjects, and heighten his prestige 
in their eyes. He recruits them from the Libyan 
tribes of the desert, and from amongst the pirates, who 
from time to time are drawn by greed of gain or the 
spirit of adventure as far as the coasts of Egypt, from 
distant Greece, the islands, and Asia Minor. One of 
these pillaging bands, belonging to the warlike nation 
of the Shairetana of Lydia, had been surprised and 
entirely carried off during the last year of Seti I. 
Rameses kept it beside him, added to its numbers all 
the prisoners of the same race taken during his early 

wars, and thus formed a small 
select corps devoted to himself. 
The Shairetana (Fig. 54) are 
clothed in the long Egyptian 
skirt and a close-fitting jerkin 
of thick stuff, with black and 
white stripes, opened at the side, 
and held in place by two braces. 
They are armed with a long 
double-edged sword, and a large 
leathern shield, sewn with disks 
of gilded metal. They wear a 
round helmet on the head, with- 
out any protection for the neck, 
frequently surmounted by a large 
ball and two pointed horns. 
They are the only foreigners that 
accompany Kameses this time ; the Libyan auxiliaries, 
Bedouins, and negroes remain in Egypt, at the dis- 
posal of the queen and of the officers entrusted with 
the regency. 

The soldiers of native race are divided into four 
legions, each named after one of the great gods, the 
legion of Amen, the legion of Ra, the legion of Ptah, 
the legion of Sutekh. The contingents of the various 
nomes are distributed amongst them ; when that of 

Fig. 54. — A Shairetana 
of the Guard. 


Apu arrives it is joined to the legion of Amen. The 
war-chariots form a special corps, commanded by the 
king and his son in person. Foreigners, Egyptian 
infantry, chariot soldiers, are all jealous of each other. 
The Egyptians grudge the Shairetana the favour shown 
them by Pharaoh, and the post of honour which he 
gives them in the battles. The cavalry, which contains 
the young men of noble family, despise the legions in 
which the mass of fellahs and the common soldiers 
serve. This rivalry between the services might become 
dangerous under an ordinary general ; Rameses takes 
advantage of it to stimulate the ardour of his soldiers. 
The Egyptian lacks lire and passion, but he is patient, 
endures fatigue for a long time, and fears neither pain 
nor death ; he forms the nucleus of a strong resisting 
army. The Shairetana and the other foreign mer- 
cenaries are there to communicate to him the offensive 
qualities in which he is deficient — impulse and vigour.* 
They resemble yeast that is introduced into a heavy 
paste to lighten and improve it. 

Nakhtminou's youngest son is scarcely ten years 
old. He is a fine child, slender, tall for his age, skilful 
in all bodily exercises, intelligent, and very lively. 
The sight of the weapons and the tumult of the last 
few days have filled him with a warlike ardour which 
continually displays itself, much to the annoyance of 
his family. He neglects his lessons, writes his exer- 
cises anyhow, and, when reprimanded by his father, 
only replies that he wishes to be an officer, and need 
not study so much. Psarou, amused by his enthusiasm, 
delights in talking to him on this subject whenever he 

* I have borrowed this description, changing the actual names, 
from the accounts of the campaigns of Mohammed Ali and Ibrahim 
Pacha. The fellah of to-day so absolutely resembles the fellah of 
antiquity, that I have not hesitated to apply to the armies of the 
Pharaohs the same remarks that are true of the modern armies. The 
Shairetana and other mercenaries must have filled the same role 
under Rameses that the Arnaoots and Europeans filled under 
Mohammed Ali. 


meets him. ' Ask my old Ennana,' lie says to the boy 
one day, ' what he thinks of the fine profession } 7 ou are 
so fond of. He is a good adviser, and you will do well 
to listen to him as though he were the god Thoth.' 
Ennana is a scribe of the Double White House, who 
accompanies Psarou in all bis journeys. He is un- 
rivalled as a book-keeper, and no one is quicker in 
discovering an error of a sack of corn in twenty 
registers. He is also a poet at times, and whenever he 
has a moment's leisure he writes, in verses or in prose, 
upon every subject that offers itself, sacred or profane. 
The departure of the infantry and of the chariot 
soldiers has inspired him, as we might suppose. When 
Nakhtminou's son asks his opinion, his answer is already 
written in rhythmical words that please the ear. ' Why, 
then, dost thou assert that an infantry officer is better 
off than a scribe ? Come here, and I will tell thee the 
fate of an infantry officer, the extent of his sufferings. 
He is taken when quite a child, the tress still hanging- 
over the ear,* and is imprisoned in a barrack. He is 
beaten, and his stomach is covered with wounds; he is 
beaten, and his head is broken by a wound ; he is 
laid down and beaten like a papyrus, t and he is bruised 
all over by the stick. Come, now, whilst I tell you 
about his march into Syria, his journeys to distant 
lands. His provisions and his water are upon his 
shoulder like the burden of an ass, and weigh upon his 
neck like that of an ass, until the joints of his spine 
are displaced. He drinks foul water — still perpetually 
mounting guard. When he reaches the enemy? — he 
is only a trembling bird. If he return to Egypt? — he 
is no better than old, worm-eaten wood. He is ill, and 
must lie down, he is carried home upon an ass, whilst 
robbers steal his clothes and his servants run away. 

* The hair of young children was gathered in a thick plait, which 
fell over the left ear. See Fig. 8, p. 14. 

t The stems of the papyrus were vigorously beaten in order to 
weld the fibres together, and thus make leaves upon which the scribes 
could write. 


Therefore, my child ! change the opinion thou hast 
formed upon the scribe and the officer.' 

The son of Nakhtminou is a little disappointed by 
the sceptical, mocking tones of the lines he has just 
heard ; the sound of the trumpets and the brilliancy of 
the weapons had prevented him from thinking of these 
discomforts. However, he consoles himself by saving 
that the cavalry officers have nothing to fear from all 
these annoyances. 'The chariot soldiers ?' replied 
Ennana, gently. ' Now, let me tell you the fatiguing 
duties of the chariot soldier. He hastens to choose his 
horses from his Majesty's breeding studs ; when he 
has chosen two fine horses he rejoices loudly, he returns 
to his tillage, and drives at a gallop — for he is 
pleased to gallop fast upon a chariot — but he does not 
yet know the fate that awaits him. He gives up his 
possessions to his grandfather ; then he takes his chariot 
— a chariot of which the pole has cost three outnou of 
copper and the body five outnou* — and gallops away in 
it. But he entangles himself in his reins, and falls to 
the ground amongst the thorns ; a scorpion stings his 
foot and his heel is pierced by the bite. When his 
accoutrements are examined his misery is at its height ; 
he is stretched upon the ground and receives one 
hundred blows from a stick.' 

The son of Nakhtminou still persists in dreaming of 
chariots and battles ; a love of struggle and noise is a 
weakness of all children. Age and reflection calm this 
youthful ardour ; in a few years he will marry — ' make 
a wife,' as they say here — take a lucrative post upon his 
father's estate or in Pharaoh's court, and never be 
more than a peaceful scribe. The Egyptians in the 
time of Thothmes III. and of Amenophis II. were more 
faithful to their childish impressions ; they willingly 
served during their whole lives, and the profession of 
soldier seemed to them quite as good as the career of a 

* See p. 20, Note, the weight of the outnou, and the means of 
calculating the value in modern coin. 


scribe. This deterioration of the military spirit is some- 
what injurious to the greatness of the country. Seti I. 
and Rameses, good generals as they are, have not won so 
many victories as their predecessors of the eighteenth 
dynasty, and these victories have been less decisive. 
Amenophis III. still levied tribute from the Khita; 
Seti was obliged to treat with their king as an equal ; 
the gods alone foresee the end of the campaign now 
about to commence. The mercenaries form only a 
portion of the army at present. If the aversion which 
the natives feel for military life increases, and every- 
thing leads us to believe that this will be the case, the 
number of barbarian soldiers must be enormously aug- 
mented, and then — every one knows what the result 
always is ; the former slaves rapidly become the masters, 
and the day is not perhaps far distant when the foreign 
bands will place one of their own leaders upon the 
throne of Pharaoh.* 

* This really happened about a hundred years later, after Seti II., 
when the foreigners gave the crown of Egypt to the Syrian Her-Heru. 




Aspect of the country of Apu — Passage of the ford — The incantations 
against the crocodiles — The villa of Nakhtminou — The garden 
and the fruit-trees of foreign origin — The ponds — The vines and 
the winepress — Irrigation — The shepherds — The fishpond : fishing 
and fowling in the marshes — Netting fish: salting fish — Netting 
birds: preserving game — Hunting in the desert in olden times — 
The gamekeeper's department — The valley of Apu — The written 
rock — Hunting in the desert — The monsters — Return to Thebes : 
the pillow and the god Bisou. 

The inspection of the registers of the taxes followed 
the levy and the departure of the troops. Psarou has 
taken part of the stuffs which the city pays into the 
treasury on account of its manufactures, and a portion 
of the arrears of the ordinary tax in grain stored in the 
royal granaries. He has embarked it all, and would be 
already on the road to Thebes if Nakhtminou had not 
requested the honour of retaining him as a guest for 
two or three days longer, and of giving him the pleasure 
of a chase in the desert. His favourite villa is situated 
on the north-east of the city, near the entrance of a 
wild valley, which leads straight to one of the districts 
of the mountain where game is most plentiful. The 
party leaves Apu early in the morning, and goes across 
the fields to avoid the long turns of the road ; the beans 
are in flower at this season, and the stems are so tall 
that men and beasts are almost hidden in the perfumed 
verdure. Beyond the beans the way lies through fields 
of dhoura and corn ; then, after passing a few groups 



of palm-trees, the riders cross the road, and a canal about 
fifteen yards wide lies before them, its stagnant water 
confined between two crumbling banks of clay. 

The ford is not far away, but a herd of cattle, 
walking slowly along, reaches it first and stops the way 
for a moment (Fig. 55). The chief shepherd pauses, 
examines the water with a glance, and rapidly utters a 
few words : ' Halt, crocodile, son of Set ! Do not wave 
thy tail ; do not move thine arms ; do not open thy 
mouth : but may the water become like a rampart of 
burning fire before thee ! Halt, crocodile, son of Set !' 
The crocodile is always hidden near the fords. The 

f ti?*L4*WMM 

T A »c T r£W 

Fig. 55. — Cattle crossing the Ford. 

incantation which the shepherd has just recited will 
infallibly blind it or stupefy it, so that it will not see 
either man or beast, or, if it see them, it cannot attack 
them. The water is not deep ; it. scarcely reaches the 
bodies of the oxen. Still, one of the calves is too small 
to cross on foot, and a herdsman is obliged to carry it 
over on his back. The unlucky calf does not appreciate 
this mode of travelling, and turns lowing towards its 
mother. The hitter, equally uneasy, replies, but the 
herdsman who follows consoles her rather ironically : 
* Oh, good mother, is the rascal carrying off thy calf V 
A village formed of poor, low huts lies in front of the 
travellers, but the left bank of the canal is guarded by 
the crenellated brick wall which usually distinguishes 



the house of an important man ; behind it stands the 
villa of Nakhtminou. 

The garden is entered through a monumental brick 
gateway (Fig. 56). The opening is framed by doorposts 
and lintels of white stucco, covered with hieroglyphics ; 
a dedicatory inscription, ornamented with the cartouches 



Fig. 56. — An Egyptian Villa. 

of Seti I., states that it was constructed by Nakht- 
minou's father, nearly thirty years ago. The swing- 
doors are of massive cedar wood, strengthened by heavy 
bronze hinges. They are only opened upon grand occa- 
sions for the nobleman and his guests, the usual entrance 
to the enclosure being through two posterns to the left 


of the gateway. The garden forms a perfect square of 
about one hundred yards each way, divided into portions 
of unequal size by walls of dry stone, scarcely two feet 
high ; rustic gates of painted wood lead from one to the 
other. They are planted partly with fruit-trees and 
partly with ornamental trees, some of foreign origin. 
In fact, the Egyptians are very fond of new flowers 
and essences ; they transport as many as possible to the 
banks of the Nile, and try to acclimatise them there. 
Queen Hatshepset sent a fleet of five ships to the land 
of Punt,* to fetch the scented fig-trees that she placed 
in her orchards at Thebes. Thothmes III. had pictures 
placed in one of the chapels of the temple of Amen at 
Karnak of all the various species of beasts and vege- 
tables that he had brought from his campaigns in Syria 
and from the regions of the Upper Nile. Private in- 
dividuals are not less active than the Pharaohs. For 
the last four centuries the Egyptian flora, which is 
naturally poor, has been continually enriched by at 
least twenty useful or decorative plants, the apple, 
almond, and pomegranate, besides some new varieties 
of raisins and figs. Nakhtminou has found means of 
collecting specimens of nearly all these plants, and now 
ahows them to his guest with legitimate pride. In his 
own opinion, his most valuable possession is a very rare 
species of palm-tree, which is found occasionally, at 
long intervals', in two or three parts of the Nubian 
desert, between the Nile and the Red Sea. The poets, 
who know it by hearsay, compare it to Thoth, the god 
of wisdom, because of its fine size and marvellous 
properties. Its fruit, before reaching maturity, con- 
tains a kind of sweet milk, of which the barbarians are 
very fond. This tree has a unique history. The 
father of Nakhtminou brought it from the land of 
Akiti, when he went to dig the wells upon the road to 
the gold mines in the time of Seti I. There is not 

* The land of Punt responds to the southern coasts of Arabia and 
the land of the Somali. 



another specimen for thirty leagues round the country 
— Pharaoh himself has only two or three in his parks 
at Thebes. Four oblong pools, bordered by a stone 
kerb, ornamented by great bunches of lotus, and 
crowded with ducks, are symmetrically placed in the 
midst of the trees. A screen of common dates and of 
cassia-trees alternating with dom palms* runs along the 
inside of the wall, and shelters the villa from the dusty 
wind of the desert. Thousands of birds — lapwings, 
sparrows, green-robed siskins, grey doves with, black 
collars — nest in the bower and enliven it with their 

Fig. 57.— A Vine : Gathering the Fruit. 

quarrels. Shade and fresh, cool air prevail in the 
grounds. The contrast is delightful after the barren- 
ness and heat of the surrounding plain. As soon as 
the threshold is crossed one comprehends why the pious 
Egyptian hopes that his soul, as its supreme felicity, 
will return to sit under the trees he has planted, by 
the side of the pools he has dug, there to enjoy the re- 
freshing breeze from the north. A large trellis planted 
with vines extends from the gate to the dwelling 

* The dom is a kind of palm-tree, of which the trunk is divided 
into two branches, and each branch into two new ones. It bear? 
rather large fruit, which the old Egyptians seem to have greatly 
appreciated. The dom palm is not found before Siout in ascending 
the Nile. The tree is gradually disappearing from Egypt proper. 



(Fig. 57). It is supported by several rows of painted 
wooden columns with lotus capitals. The vines, placed 
in a line between them, grow high above the heads of 
the pedestrians beneath. Every year Nakhtminou 
amuses himself with the vintage. He watches the 
slaves gathering the grapes, placing them in baskets, 
and pressing them in long bags of coarse linen (Fig. 
58). He thus obtains a thick, sweet wine, which easily 
turns sour, unless mixed with resin. Two small open 

Fig. 58. — Pressing the Grapes. 

kiosks are placed to the right and left of the house, 
each facing one of the basins. The master delights to 
come here in the afternoon to play at draughts or in- 
dolently watch the gambols of his ducks. The store- 
houses, stables, all the materials for agricultural labour, 
are placed in a second enclosure at some distance from 
the first. 

The land, which extends outside as far as the desert, 
has been adapted, with some little trouble, to the estab- 
lishment of a market garden. It is watered from the 



canal by means of a series of balances placed at intervals 
along the banks (Fig. 59). Imagine a beam forming a 
lever and suspended about one -third of its length 
between two vertical posts ; the shortest arm bears 
a counterweight in clay ; a basket of palm -leaves is 
suspended to the longest. From sunrise to sunset a 
fellah fills the basket, raises it to about the middle of 
his body, losing half its contents in the process, and 
empties the remainder into a trench, which conducts 
the water towards a given part of the estate, which is 

Fig. 59. — The Balance for drawing Water : the Shadouf. 

divided by small embankments into squares of various 
sizes, called houses, in which the vegetables are planted. 
The water passes from house to house until it reaches 
the other end of the field. The overflow is carefully 
collected into pools, which serve for both cattle and 
men to drink from. In this way the prince procures 
all the vegetables he requires for his table during 
every season of the year — onions, cucumbers, mad 
apples, lupins, gombos, and mallows of various kinds. 
The land, which is not regularly watered, but only 
moistened by the infiltering of the canal, is not useless 


on that account. Wherever the water penetrates, the 
grass grows strong and close, and for a few weeks 
it is a carpet of verdure profusely sown with pink, 
violet, or yellow flowers ; where moisture ceases, vege- 
tation abruptly vanishes. Flocks and herds graze on 
these lands during the w r inter months. They remain 
six or seven days at a time, under the guidance of the 
shepherds, sleeping out of doors, drinking from the 
pools or the canal. When one spot is exhausted, they 
migrate to a fresh place, and do not return to the 
village until after they have traversed all the land that 
belongs to their master. The shepherds / accustomed to 
living together, form a special class, of rougher habits 
and more savage character than the usual population. 
They allow their hair and beard to grow ; many of 
them even have red hair, which is held in horror by 
the devout. It is, in fact, believed that red-haired 
men or beasts are the agents of Set, who assassinated 
Osiris, and who is execrated as the spirit of evil. 
The shepherds occupy their leisure hours in weaving 
mats, cooking, and preparing the balls with which they 
fatten their stock. They often find some difficulty in 
protecting themselves against the marauding Bedouins 
or the wild beasts. Nevertheless they are gay, fond 
of singing, and full of contempt for sedentary 

A little to the north of the village the canal widens 
into a large marshy pool, in which papyri, water-lilies, 
the blue lotus, and twenty species of aquatic plants 
grow well and thickly. The plants are so bushy that 
they resemble a number of islands, amongst which 
small canals wind capriciously, with scarcely width 
enough to allow a boat to pass through. Each of 
them forms a miniature world, where thousands of 
insects and birds live peaceably : pelicans, geese, and 
ducks by the side of the heron, bittern, white ibis, and 
teal. Sometimes, however, an ichneumon, a marten, 
or simply a cat from the neighbourhood, will slyly get 


in, and make great havoc amongst the half-fledged 
nestlings. The waters are as well stocked as the 
plants : eels, pike, lampreys, mormyrus, all fresh- 
water fish abound there. The crocodile frequents 
them, and sometimes even a hippopotamus that has 
lost its way will take refuge in one of the pools after 
the inundation has subsided. The depth and extent of 
the pool are not too great for it to be easily drained 
and cultivated; moreover, each year the Nile raises 
the bottom by a fresh deposit of mud, thus rendering 
the task easier. The princes of Apu have never cared 
to undertake it. Arable land is not lacking upon 
their estates, and they prefer to leave preserves for 
fishing and hunting near their towns. 

The morning after their arrival, Nakhtminou, his 
wife, and children, lead their guest to the pool, where 
they all embark. The boats they use consist of an 
oblong wooden case, placed in the middle of a bundle 
of rushes, and secured by strings of papyrus. The 
two extremities are tightly tied, and are sometimes 
elongated into a point, sometimes carried straight out 
of the water, or sometimes ornamented with a large 
lotus blossom. The whole bark is so light that one or 
two men, according to the length, easily carry it from 
one pool to the other upon their shoulders. It fre- 
quently capsizes, but no one troubles about that, for 
all Egyptians swim from infancy, and the simplicity 
of their costume prevents any great dread of an un- 
expected bath. Nakhtminou only takes with him a 
long, double-pointed harpoon (Fig. 60). He rapidly 
pushes into the thicket of plants with his wife and two 
children, who manage the skiff. Standing with his 
body bent slightly forward, he scrutinises the water. 
Suddenly he plunges one arm down with a rapid move- 
ment and catches two fine perch at a stroke. Psarou, 
who prefers fowling, is accompanied by the two 
daughters of his host. They take a tame goose, which 
serves as a decoy for the game, and a cat trained to 



retrieve. Psarou carries neither bow nor javelin, only 
about twenty boomerangs. The boomerang is a curved 
stick, slightly rounded on one side, flat upon the other, 
sometimes unornamented, sometimes shaped like a 
serpent. It is held in one hand, then thrown into 
the air; any bird hit upon the neck falls, half dead. 
Psarou is unusually skilful in this sport, and every 
boomerang that he launches hits its mark. The cat 
springs forward and picks up the game, not without 

Fig. 60. — Fishing with a Double Harpoon. 

swallowing some eggs or nestlings that it passes on the 
way (Fig. 61). 

Fowling and fishing of this kind are amusements 
reserved for the rich and noble. Professional fowlers 
and fishermen use appliances of more certain effect, 
particularly nets (Fig. 62). The fishing-net is a long 
sweep-net with large meshes. Its upper part is sup- 
ported on the surface by wooden floats, whilst the 
lower part is furnished with leaden balls, which sink 
it to the bottom and give the necessary tension. It is 
thrown either from the bank or from a boat, then upon 



a signal from the leader half-a-dozen men take the 
cords and haul it to land. The largest fish are carried 
in the arms, the smaller ones in baskets, to a neigh- 

Fig. 61. — Fowling with a Boomerang upon the Pond. 

bouring shed, where salters open and cleanse them ; 
then, after rubbing them with salt, hang them in the 

TS« mMiAlttt*4*l 

Fig. 62.— Fishing with Nets. 

open air to dry. This method is not particularly 
efficacious. The fish thus prepared have always a 
disagreeable taste and a strong smell ; they also spoil 
very quickly. The working classes do not seem to 



mind these defects ; to them it is a feast unobtainable 
every day, and the rich themselves eat it occasionally. 

Large nets are used for fowling (Fig. 63). They 
are stretched upon an hexagonal frame of wood, which 
opens with hinges. The favourite spot for putting them 
out is a piece of almost clear water between two tufts 
of reeds. The net is opened and then fastened by a 

Fig. 63.— Fowling with a Net. 

rather short cord to a stake driven into the mud ; three 
or four men hold a second very long cord, which is so 
arranged as to shut the net when it is drawn. The 
head fowler throws down the bait, a few handfuls of 
grain or some crumbled bread, and, concealing himself 
as much as possible, he watches the movements of the 
birds. As soon as he considers them in a good position, 
he issues his instructions in a low voice, ' Attention, 
walk well, the game is ready ! ' He then rises suddenly, 
unfolding a linen band, the men draw the cord, and 
the two sides close with a loud noise. Half-a-dozen 
geese that were outside fly away, about thirty remain 
prisoners. The fowlers quickly cage the young ones 
that they hope %o tame, and tie the others by the feet, 
three or four together. One wrings their necks and 
plucks them, a second cuts off the heads and draws them, 
a third pots them with salt without smoking them 
(Fig. G4). Not only geese and ducks are treated in 
this way, but small birds, like quails and partridges. 
The game thus preserved is soaked in cold water for 
some hours before it is used, and when sufficiently 
freed from salt, the birds are eaten raw, or arranged in 
a stew ; well prepared, they form a dish which, if noft 
delicate, is at least preferable to the fish. 



Hunting in the desert was originally not only a 
pleasure but a necessity. It had two equally important 
objects, the reinforcement of the herds and the 
destruction of wild beasts. Most of the animals now 
seen on the farms were not at that time entirely subject 
to man. Sheep, goats, and perhaps asses, were domes- 
ticated, but the pig was still half wild in the sloughs 
of the Delta, and the ox itself could be captured only 
with the lasso. The unclaimed lands, which laid 
between the last canals of the Nile and the loot of the 
mountains, formed the best hunting-grounds ; there the 
gazelle, oryx, mouflon, and ibex, which came down to 
water in the plain, were easily attacked and pursued 
into the gorges or over the desert table-lands where 
they lived. Mixed packs, in which the jackal and 
hyena-dog figured by the side of the wolf-dog and the 
greyhound, scented and retrieved for the master the 


Fig. 64. — Preserving Game in Salt. 

prey which he shot with his arrows. Sometimes a 
young animal followed the hunter who had just killed 
its mother, and was carrying the body home. Some- 
times a gazelle but slightly wounded was taken to the 
village and cured there. These prisoners were tamed 
by daily contact with man, and formed round his 


dwelling a kind of incongruous herd, which was kept 
partly for amusement, but chiefly for the profit it 
yielded. It was, in case of need, a provisien of meat 
on the spot. Frequent hunts kept up the numbers, 
and some of the herds included hundreds of stock. 
Time gradually taught their keepers to distinguish 
between the species which could be rendered profitable, 
and those which by nature were incapable of domestica- 
tion ; now we occasionally find a few tame gazelles in 
the houses of the rich, the delight of the women and 
children, but herds of them are no longer reared, and 
hunting is now an amusement, not a duty. 

Most of the principalities or nomes have their 
regular gamekeepers, under the command of a head 
keeper. Accustomed to wander over the mountain 
perpetually, they at last know every yard of it. There 
is no path that they have not followed, spring or well 
which they have not discovered, ravine which the}^ 
have not explored from one end to the other ; they 
are the vanguard of Egypt, who keep watch against the 
Bedouins, and their vigilance has more than once saved 
the richest cantons and cities in the valley from the 
incursions of the Tahonou, the Anou, the Qahaq, and 
other half-barbarous tribes that roam to the east and 
west. Nakhtminou has charged Bakourro, the present 
head gamekeeper, to make the necessary preparations 
for a battue of two or three days' duration in the direc- 
tion of the Lake of Gazelles ; the general meet is to 
take place at the entrance of the Valley of Apu, under 
the Written Rock, between nine and ten in the morn- 
ing. A few minutes' walk along the canal, then an 
abrupt turn to the east, and the entrance of the valley 
is reached. It is the bed of a dried-up torrent, with a 
bottom of fine sand strewn with fallen stones. The 
walls are perpendicular, but the action of the sun has 
destroyed the ridge and the upper strata, and the 
loosened rock has crumbled into long banks of rubbish 
(Fig. 65). At every rainy season this rubbish is dis- 



placed ; the waters undermine the banks during the 
winter wherever the current strikes them, then carries 
them away block by block, throwing them further 
down towards the plain. The gorge, which is fairly 
wide at first, soon narrows. It is divided in six places 
by beds of hard, compact stone, which the water has 
not yet worn away ; they form six successive steps, 
from which fall six cascades in the rainy season. In 
passing from one to the other, the pedestrian must 

Fig. 65.— The Valley of Apu. 

climb the wall by steep, narrow paths, full of rolling 
stones. The interval between the fourth and fifth steps 
forms a level plain about two hundred yards square, 
divided in the centre by a narrow gorge. The waters 
continue there in miniature the work that they have 
executed on a larger scale in forming the valley. They 
have hollowed out a trench from six to eight yards 
deep, and three or four yards wide, obstructed by 
pebbles and enormous blocks of stone, which are dis- 
placed and carried a little further down every year. 


A strong vegetation develops and flourishes in the 
shade of the rocks long after the summer heat has 
dried up everything around. One variety of caper- 
bush with a violet flower, a rich plant with round } 
fleshy leaves, and a species of small tamarisk, climb 
and grow in the crevices wherever they find a handful 
of vegetable earth. A few puddles, the last traces of 
the winter rains, sparkle here and there ; in one spot, 
more enclosed than the others, a thin line of water, 
still running and leaping from one stone to another, 
gives itself the airs of a cascade. 

The cavalcade painfully advances up this ravine. An 
enormous rock, detached from the mountain many cen- 
turies ago — perhaps before Egypt itself existed — stands 
next the waterfall on the right side of the valley. This 
is the Written Rock. It is larger at the summit than 
at the base, and forms a kind of tent, which can easily 
shelter five or six men from the sun. From time imme- 
morial the gazelle-hunters have made their siesta beneath 
its shade, and many of them have written their names 
upon it, or drawn hunting scenes with their" knives — a 
gazelle, an ostrich, or a goose, which is one of the symbols 
of the god Minou, the protector of the desert; lastly, the 
image of Minou himself, his arms raised, wearing feathers 
upon his head. Bakourro and his men had arrived the 
previous evening. Some of them carry the nets and the 
stakes to stretch them with, others hold the large grey- 
hounds with strange names — Abaikaro, Pouhtes, Togrou 
— in a leash. The two parties join and ascend the valley 
together as far as the well of the spring. Here the 
water slowly collects at the bottom of a narrow funnel, 
wdiere it is always cool. A rock overhangs it, in which 
a grotto, or, rather, a niche has been hewn; it is shallow, 
but high enough for a man to stand upright in ; it is 
dedicated to Minou. A halt is made in this spot for 
lunch, and for the party to wait in the shade until the 
hours of noon are passed. About three o'clock the 
hunters proceed at a more rapid pace, for . the way is 



long and laborious. The valley ends in a blind gully, 
about six or eight hundred yards from the well. It is 
first a narrow gorge, half barred by enormous stones, 
then a valley in which a few inferior herbs and a group 
of palm-trees are found ; then a new spring, which 
niters drop by drop from the base of the mountain ; 
then an immense circle rilled with scattered rocks. A 
winding path leads to the higher table-land, which ex- 
tends beyond the range of sight in gentle undulations. 
At nightfall the caravan reaches the bank of a hollow, 

-TipcKn-^ j 4 

Fig. 66. — Hunting in the Desert. 

filled with water, which receives from the natives the 
pompous name of the Lake of Gazelles. During the 
night the hunters bar the entrance to an abrupt ravine 
which opens near the lake with nets extended over stakes. 
They then make a wide circuit, and post themselves at 
the other extremity with a dozen dogs. At dawn, the 
animals from the neighbourhood, which pass this way as 
they go down to drink, enter the gorge as usual ; as 
soon as about a hundred have passed, the ravine is closed 
with other nets and they are taken in a' trap. The dogs 
are loosed, and (Fig. 66) drive them along to where 
Psarou and Nakhtminou, posted behind the improvised 


fold, can without fatigue shoot with their arrows all that 
come within range — hares, oryx, antelopes, ostriches, 
jackals, lynx, even striped or spotted hyenas; in less than 
two hours all are taken, wounded, or killed. Formerly 
this pastime, apparently so inoffensive, was attended by 
some danger. The lions and great felines, such as the 
leopard or the tiger, were fairly numerous, and the sports- 
man who started in search of a wild goat sometimes met 
them face to face on his road ; then the hunter would 
become the game. Now, however, lions have almost 
disappeared. The Pharaohs pursue them continually, 
and destroy as many as possible. Amenophis III. killed 

Fig. 67. — The Monsters that live in the Desert. 

one hundred and twelve in the first ten years of his 
reign, and if Pameses II. has not yet attained the same 
number, it is because his predecessors have nearly de- 
stroyed the race. 

According to the tribes that inhabit the desert, it 
formerly contained animals still more terrible, though 
fortunately rarer, than the lion : sphinxes with human 
heads ; griffins with jackals' bodies, eagles' heads, and 
hawks' wings; tigers with serpents' heads (Fig. 67). 
No one could ever boast of having killed one of these 
monsters. They avoid man, w T hom they could easily 
kill, and are only seen far away, on the furthest 
limits of the horizon. Many people, Psarou amongst 
them, do not believe in their existence, but, on the 
dther hand, the hunters and the leaders of caravans tell 
a thousand tales of their marvellous strength and 


curious characteristics. Every one knows that an oryx 
can turn a man into stone with a glance, and that the 
lion fascinates its victim with its eyes ; once stupefied 
he loses all his will, the lion forces him to follow it as 
long as it pleases, and then kills and eats him at its 
leisure, when it is next hungry. The monsters not 
only possess the same power, but exert a malignant in- 
fluence which no one can define over all that they meet. 
These creatures form the theme of conversation round 
the camp-fires in the evening, and many wonderful 
anecdotes are told about them, but none of them are 
seen during the two days that the party remain near 
the Lake of Gazelles. Perhaps in order to meet them 
one should penetrate further into the desert, to the 
vicinity of the peak of Bakhou and the mysterious 
regions where the sun first appears every morning at 
break of day. 

Psarou, who is no longer young, returns delighted 
but exhausted from this excursion into the desert. 
For some days his head has felt heavy, and he has 
found some trouble in working, or even in thinking. 
Perhaps this is only a passing ailment, but, anyhow, 
he prefers returning home and being ill at Thebes if 
really indisposed. He bids Nakhtminou farewell, col- 
lects the boats which carry the corn for the taxes as 
he passes, and invites the stewards of the granaries 
to go with him. Their zeal deserves some reward, and 
he wishes to present them himself to Pharaoh for the 
decoration of the Golden Collar. At last, one week 
after leaving Apu, he reaches home : his wife Khait 
and her children, who were impatiently awaiting his 
arrival, keep him talking for a good part of the night, 
and he is too pleased to see them again to think of his 
indisposition. At last he retries, but, tired as he is, 
Psarou cannot sleep for some time. The events of 
the last few days continually recur to his memory, 
and this recollection possesses him so completely that 
it produces a species of delirium, of which he is 



vaguely conscious. The Egyptians rest the head 
upon a pillow of curved wood mounted upon a foot 
(Fig. 68). The grotesque figure of the god Bisou 
(Fig. 69) is often carved upon it, 
a dwarf with short legs, large 
stomach, and ugly mask, but of a 
pleasant disposition, who guards 
the sleeper from the spirits and 

Fig. 68.— A Pillow. 

Fig. 69.— The god Bisou. 

demons that roam about during the night. Now, 
either Bisou is busy elsewhere, or he is careless in per- 
forming his office, for Psarou feels that he is sur- 
rounded and, as it were, invaded by a malevolent force 
against which he struggles in vain. At last, towards 
morning, he falls asleep, but his repose is troubled by 
disquieting dreams, and he obtains no rest. 




Pharaoh's palace — Psarou's audience — The distribution of golden 
collars — The Egyptian doctor: sorcerers and doctors — Treatises 
upon medicine — The exorcist : incantation against the spirits in 
possession of the patient — Death and the lirst mourning — Dura- 
tion of the soul — Osiris, the first mummy — Embalmment — 
Preparation of the funeral furniture— the coffin and the amulets 
— The mummy. 

Two sharp knocks at the door suddenly awaken him ; 
a herald is there, to take him to the palace by Pharaoh's 
command. No invitation could be less welcome, for 
his indisposition, instead of passing off' as he hoped, 
had increased during the night. His head feels heavy 
and burning, his tongue dry and bitter; he aches all 
over, and strange starts shake him from time to time. 
But no matter : when Pharaoh speaks, all must obey. 
He rises, rouges his cheeks and lips to conceal their 
pallor, puts on the long, curled wig, which has never 
felt so heavy before, and the white linen robe, and 
painfully enters his chariot. The Egyptian palaces are 
not built for eternity like the temples. They are light 
constructions of wood, brick, or undressed freestone, 
but rarely blended with granite except for the decora- 
tion of the great doorways. They recall the villa 
of Nakhtminou on a large scale : isolated pavilions 
for the harem, storehouses for the provisions, barracks 
and quarters for the royal guard and for the person- 
ages attached to the household ; large courts planted 
with trees, gardens with kiosks and pools, where the 



women can amuse themselves. A strong crenellated 
wall gives the dwelling the appearance of a fortress 
or of an entrenched camp, and at times, in case of 
riots or conspiracies, the royal god has owed his safety 
to the solidity of his doors and the height of his walls. 
Without dismounting, Psarou crosses a yard, where 
the Shairetana* are on duty with a few Egyptian 
archers ; and after making himself known to their 
officer, he enters the court of honour, followed by his 
band of collectors and rural officials. 

The gallery, where the king sits during the 
audience, is placed exactly opposite the entrance- 
gate, projecting from the wall of the facade, and com- 
municating directly with the private apartments. It 
is raised four or five yards above the ground, orna- 
mented breast-high with a cushion of stuff embroidered 
with red and blue, and sheltered by a canopy of 
curiously carved planks, supported by two slender 
wooden pillars painted in bright colours and orna- 
mented at the top by many-coloured streamers. As 
Psarou leaves his chariot and prostrates himself be- 
tween the two columns, Pameses appears in the front 
of the box with Nefertari and addresses some affable 
words to him, which he is careful not to answer. 
Etiquette forbids any subject to present himself before 
Pharaoh without being apparently stupefied and over- 
whelmed ; his 'tongue fails, his limbs sink beneath 
him, his heart ceases to beat, he does not know whether 
he is alive or dead. 

He does not recover himself until he hears Pharaoh 
say to one of the Friendsf who stand at the foot of the 
tribune, ' Raise him, that he may speak to me ' Then 
Psarou officially returns to life and stands. ' Thou art 
then returned in peace,' continues; Pharaoh, 'and thy 
business has been well done. But are not those who 

* See page 88, what is said of the Khai<etana. 
t The word Friend is one of the titles given to the highest posi- 
tions in the household of the king. 



stand behind thee the stewards of the granaries and 
their scribes ? ' ' They are, Sovereign, our Master. 
They have done more for thee than has ever been 

Fig. 70. 

The King (Amenophis IV.) and his Family throwing 
Golden Collars to the People. 

done since the time of the god Ha, for they have 
collected more wheat in this one season than has 
been harvested during the last thirty years/ 'That 


is well/ replied Pharaoh ; then turning towards the 
queen, 'Here is Psarou, who has returned to us from 
the fields. Does it not seem to you that he has 
acquired something of the appearance and manners 
of a rustic ? ' This jest, which is a proof of unusual 
satisfaction, delights all present. The laughter passes 
from the king to the queen, from thence to the 
friends, and then on by precedence to the groups 
scattered in the court. Pharaoh then calls one of his 
chamberlains. ' Let gold, much gold, be given to the 
praiseworthy nomarch, the Count of Thebes, Psarou, 
whose age is advanced and happy, and who has never 
committed a fault.' Some attendants bring him upon 
a stand a pile of collars and bracelets in gold and 
silver gilt, of weight and size proportioned to the 
value of the services rendered (Fig. 70). He takes 
one and throws it from the box, the queen follows his 
example, and three little princesses, running up as to a 
new game, soon throw down the remainder. 

The friends pass the largest collar round Psarou's 
neck, and fasten the smaller ones to it, so that they 
fall upon his chest like a golden breastplate. Standing 
upright, with raised arms, he chants a hymn of thanks. 
' Beautiful is thy rising, good prince, beloved of Amen, 
thou who art eternally equal to thy father, Ra, and 
who sharest his immortality. Oh, prince ! who art 
Horus amongst men, thou who hast given me life, me 
and my double, we are joyful in thy presence, happy 
are those who obey thee ; I am humble, but thou hast 
made me great by all that thou hast done for me, and 
I have reached a happy old age without being once 
found criminal.' Officials issuing from the two doors 
which flank the tribune now enter the yard laden with 
collars and bracelets, with which they decorate the 
stewards of the granaries. Full of gratitude, the latter 
salute Pharaoh with raised hands and straight bodies, 
then kneeling, prostrate themselves till their faces 
touch the ground, rising with bowed spine and 



drooping arms, finally standing upright, in the succes- 
sive postures of adoration (Fig. 71). A busy scribe 
rapidly registers the number of the jewels distributed, 

Fig. 71. — Postures of Adoration before Pharaoh. 

and the names of the recipients (Fig. 72) ; the soldiers 
come from their quarters and join their shouts to those 
of the fortunate officials ; slaves bending beneath the 
weight of large amphorae come forward and pour out 
wine and beer for the crowd assembled outside (Fig. 73). 

Fig. 72. — The Scribp registering 
the Golden Collars. 

Fig. 73.— The Slaves bearing 
the Jars of Wine. 

For a few minutes the whole scene is full of confusion 
and of noisy delight, which appear to give much satis- 
faction to the royal family. Psarou at length retires ; as 
soon as he has crossed the threshold his friends, slaves, 




Fig. 74. — Psarou congratulated 
by his Family. 

all the members of his family and household, rush to 
him, and overwhelm him with caresses, kissing his 
hands, feet, and clothes, and congratulating him in 
broken phrases (Fig. 74). If he has worked hard, at 

all events his reward is 
great, and one hour like 
this in a man's life suf- 
fices to redeem many 
years of trial. 

Psarou, sustained by 
pride and emotion, has 
never faltered for an in- 
stant during this long 
ceremony ; but pain re- 
sumes its ascendancy 
even before he leaves the 
palace, and when he 
reaches home he falls 
rather than alights from 
his chariot, and sinks into 
the arms of his wife, who has come to meet and wel- 
come him. The attendants quickly remove the mass 
of gold that weighs upon his chest, he is undressed 
and laid upon a bed, but he only regains partial con- 
sciousness, and remains plunged in a kind of painful 
stupor ; it is no longer a passing indisposition, but a 
serious illness,and no one can tell how it will end. 
The Egyptians are not yet resigned to think that ill- 
ness and death are natural and inevitable. They think 
that life, once commenced, should be indefinitely pro- 
longed ; if no accident intervened, what reason could 
there be for its ceasing? 

In Egypt, therefore, man does not die, but some 
one or something assassinates him. The murderer 
often belongs to our world, and can be easily pointed 
out : another man, an animal, an inanimate object, a 
stone detached from the mountain,' a tree falling upon 
a traveller and crushing him. Often, though, it be- 


longs to the invisible world, and only reveals itself by 
the malignity of its attacks : it is a god, a spirit, the 
soul of a dead man, that has cunningly entered a living 
person, or that throws itself upon him with irresistible 
violence. Once in possession of the body, the evil in- 
fluence breaks the bones, sucks out the marrow, drinks 
the blood, gnaws the intestines and the heart, and 
devours the flesh. The invalid perishes according to 
the progress of this destructive work ; and death 
speedily ensues, unless the evil genius can be driven 
out before it has committed irreparable damage. Who- 
ever treats a sick person has therefore two equally im- 
portant duties to perform. He must first discover the 
nature of the spirit in possession, and, if necessary, its 
name, and then attack it, drive it out, or even destroy 
it. He can only succeed by powerful magic, so he 
must be an expert in reciting incantations, and skilful 
in making amulets. He must then use medicine to 
contend with the disorders which the presence of the 
strange being has produced in the body ; this is done 
by a finely graduated regime and various remedies. 
The cure-workers are therefore divided into several 
categories. Some incline towards sorcery, and have 
faith in formulas and talismen only ; they think they 
have done enough if they have driven out the spirit. 
Others extol the use of drugs ; they study the qualities 
of plants and minerals, describe the diseases to which 
each of the substances provided by nature is suitable, 
and settle the exact time when they must be procured 
and applied : certain herbs have no power unless they 
are gathered during the night at the full moon, others 
are efficacious in summer only, another acts equally 
well in winter or summer. The best doctors carefully 
avoid binding themselves exclusively to either method, 
they carefully distinguish between those cases in which 
magic is sovereign and those in which natural methods 
suffice, whilst their treatment is a mixture of remedies 
and exorcisms which vary from patient to patient. 


They are usually priests, and derive their knowledge' 
from the source of all science — the works that Thoth 
and Imhotpou * composed upon this subject soon after 
the creation. Deposited in the sanctuaries, these works 
were for a long time unknown to all, but they have: 
been restored to us one after the other by special reve- 
lation in the centuries which followed the accession of 
Menes. The Treatise upon the Destruction of Pustules 
upon the Limbs of Man was found in this way ' beneath 
the feet of the god Anubis at Letopolis, and brought 
to the king Housapha'iti ' of the second dynasty. Ano- 
ther 'was found in the great hall of the temple of 
Coptos by a priest belonging to the temple. Whilst 
the whole earth was plunged in darkness, the moon 
suddenly rising shone upon the book and lighted it by 
her beams. It was then brought to King Kheops as a 
miraculous discovery.' To these divine works phy- 
sicians have now added prescriptions borrowed from 
celebrated foreign doctors, Phoenician or Syrian, and 
have also enriched them with all the observations they 
have made in the course of their own practice. Every 
doctor who has tried one of the remedies recommended 
by the author notes the case in the margin or between 
the lines of his copy, and briefly states the result ob- 
tained — which formula is good, which is uncertain, and 
which is ineffectual or produces fatal results ; by this 
means the experience gained is not lost, and the trea- 
sure of science increases from generation to generation. 
Khait summons an exorcist to see her husband. 
Nibamon is unequalled in Thebes for his skill in curing 
the most violent headaches. He arrives towards evening, 
accompanied by two servants ; one carries his black 
book, the other a casket, filled with the necessary in- 
gredients for manufacturing every variety of talisman 
on the spot — clay for modelling, plants, dried or freshly 

* Imhotpou was the god of medicine, whom the Greeks after- 
wards identified with their Esculapius ; he was a Memphite god, the 
son of Ptah. 


culled, consecrated linen, black or red ink, small figures 
in wax or baked earth. One glance at the patient tells 
him the cause of the illness ; a dead man visits Psarou 
every night, and is slowly devouring him. After a 
few moments' reflection, he takes a little clay, mixes 
some blades of grass with it, and kneads the whole into 
a rather large ball, over which he recites, in a low 
tone, one of the most powerful incantations contained 
in his book. 

The best way of driving away the rebellious spirits 
is to persuade them that their victims are placed under 
the immediate protection of one or of several divinities; 
in tormenting him it is the gods themselves that they 
unconsciously provoke, and if they persevere in their 
evil designs they risk annihilation from the person 
whom they expected to destroy with impunity. Ni- 
bamon's incantation commences by announcing that 
* The magic virtues of Psarou, son of the Lady Tent- 
noubit, are the virtues of Osiris- Atmu, the father of 
the gods/ and then, since this too general proposition 
would not suffice to alarm the ghost, the magician 
enumerates the portions which compose the head of 
Psarou, and proves that they are all armed with divine 
charms. * The magic virtues of his left temple are the 
virtues of the temple of Tmu ; the virtues of his right 
eye are the virtues of that eye of Tmu which pierces 
the darkness with its rays. The virtues of his left eye 
are the virtues of that eye of Horus which destroys.' 
When the litany is ended, if the evil one does not 
yield, he is told that each of Psarou's limbs is, so to 
speak, a distinct god. ' His upper lip is Isis, his lower 
lip is Nephthys, his neck is the goddess, his teeth are 
swords, his flesh is Osiris, his hands are divine souls ; 
his fingers are blue serpents, the adders, the sons of the 
goddess Selk ; his loins are the two feathers of Amen, 
his back is the spine of Sibou, his stomach is Nou,' and 
so on to the soles of his feet : in short, he is a god., and 
one of the most formidable of the gods, that one to 


whom nothing in Heliopolis is closed. This is an 
ingenious method of insinuating that Psarou is an 
incarnation of Pa, without, however, directly making 
the assertion. Four times Nibamon repeats his formula, 
and then glides the ball under the sick man's head. 
To-night when the dead man appears he will not have 
sufficient strength to do any harm, and he will remain 
powerless so long as the ball remains in its place. 

Khait, half reassured, rapidly slips a few golden 
rings into the hand of the holy man, and invites him 
to return to-morrow to see the success of his remedy. 
Psarou, after dreaming all night, has bled from the 
nose during the following morning and has been seized 
with foetid diarrhoea. These incidents distress Nibamon 
but do not surprise him. The evil spirits are always 
unwilling to leave their prey, and always endeavour to 
dispute it, inch by inch, with the magician who opposes 
them. The ghost, driven from the head, now attacks 
the stomach, and he will only yield to a new spell. 
Tradition relates that Ra was one day seized with hor- 
rible pains ; Horus at once modelled a statue of Isis as 
a child, and by their magic the gods of Heliopolis 
transferred to it the pain endured by the Sun. Niba- 
mon unhesitatingly applies the same remedy to Psarou. 
He takes a doll from his casket which resembles the 
one used by Horus, and murmurs over it an incanta- 
tion, in which the history of the cure is briefly 
related. ' Horns is there with Pa, who is suffering 
in the stomach. Cry aloud to the chiefs of Heliopolis : 
" Come quickly with your writings ! for Pa is suffering, 
and if he is allowed to suffer for an instant, it will be all 
over with the living god." Cry aloud to the guardian 
of the west, the chief of the desert, that he may come 
and relieve this suffering body that it may be cured.' 
Thrse words, intentionally obscure, may lead the gods 
(*f Heliopolis to suppose that their king is ill once 
more ; they will hurry with their books of magic, and 
will save Psarou in believing they are saving Pa. 


The malady will pass into the image of Isis, who will 
henceforth retain it and the spirit that produces it. 

The second incantation succeeds no better than the 
first, and days pass by bringing no improvement : the 
headache diminishes, but round, pink spots appear upon 
the body; the strength diminishes, the stupor increases, 
and Psarou seems no longer conscious of what passes 
around him. The exorcist has failed; it is time to call 
in a doctor. Pshadou has studied in the temple of 
Heliopolis, he is chief physician to Pharaoh, and has 
often succeeded in curing cases that others had des- 
paired of. His first impression is unfavourable, but 
he does not express it, for fear of alarming the family ; 
he inquires into the symptoms, the treatment adopted, 
then methodically examines the patient from head to 
foot. It is unmistakably one of those formidable in- 
ternal maladies minutely described in the books of 
Thoth. The illness has been leU to itself so long that 
no human aid can now arrest its course ; Pshadou pre- 
scribes a remedy more to satisfy his own conscience 
than in any hope of relieving his patient. 

At nightfall a severe pain in the stomach rouses 
Psarou from his stupor ; he is seized with shivering 
fits and sickness ; death will soon follow. Khait 
remains by her husband, and the children sitting 
about the room sorrowfully await the end. Sometimes 
one of the women interrupts the silence by a short 
exclamation, ' Oh, my master ! ' ' Oh, my father ! ' 
1 Oh, my beloved ! ' which the others repeat in a 
louder tone, prolong for a moment, and then abruptly 
cease. Towards morning a sudden burst of lamenta- 
tions and cries wakens the neighbours and tells them 
that all is over. Wife, children, relations, slaves — 
the whole family appear smitten with sudden madness. 
They throw themselves upon the corpse, embrace it, 
literally inundate it with tears ; they beat their chests 
and tear their clothes. After a few moments the 
women leave the chamber of death ; then, with nude 


bosoms, head sullied with dust, the hair dishevelled, 
and feet bare, they rush from the house into the still. 
deserted streets. Everywhere, as they pass, their 
acquaintances, friends, and clients arrive, but half 
clothed, and join the procession, crying aloud. Soon 
the whole neighbourhood re-echoes with wild clamour, 
to which even the indifferent respond from their 
houses. In the meantime the slaves who remain with 
the corpse hastily wash it and carr}^ it to the em- 
balmers. Two hours later, when the women, tired of 
running about, return to the house, they find the doors 
open, the fires out, the rooms empty. Psarou has left 
his dwelling ' above the earth,' and the place where 
yesterday he was master already knows him no more. 

The soul does not die at the same time that the 
breath expires upon the lips of man ; it survives, but 
with a precarious life, of which the duration depends 
upon that of the corpse, and is measured by it. Whilst 
it decays, the soul perishes at the same time ; it loses 
consciousness, and gradually loses substance too, until 
nothing but an unconscious, empty form remains, 
which is finally effaced, when no traces of the skeleton 
are left. Such an existence is agony uselessly pro- 
longed, and to deliver the double from it, the flesh 
must be rendered incorruptible. This is attained by 
embalming it as a mummy. Like every art that is 
useful to man, r this one is of divine origin. It was 
unknown in the ages that followed the creation, and 
the firstborn of men died twice, first in the body and 
then in the double. But Typhon having assassinated 
Osiris, Horus collected the pieces of his father, per- 
fumed them with the help of Isis and Nepbthv s, of 
Thoth and Anubis, saturated them with preserving 
fluids, and enveloped them in bands, pronouncing all 
the time certain formulas, which rendered his work 
eternal (Fig. 75). Osiris was therefore the first 
mummy, and from it the others were all copied. 

When the embalmers receive a corpse, they show 



the relations three models in wood of natural size from 
which they ask them to choose the preparation they 
wish for. In the first the body is treated exactly in 
the same way as Horus treated Osiris : perfumes, 
drugs, stuffs, amulets, prayers, are all repeated, even 
to the smallest details, so as to secure for the man the 


Fig. 75. — Anubis and the Mummy of Osiris. 

immortality attained by the god. This method is 
admirable in its effect, but it is so long and so 
costly that only princes and the great men of this 
world are wealthy enough to pay for it. The second, 
which does not involve such complicated operations, 
requires less time and money, and is reserved for 
people of average fortune. The third, which is per- 
formed for a very small sum, is applied to the poor, 
that is, to four- fifths of the Egyptian population. 
The three methods are based upon the same principle 


— to extract from trie body those parts which easily 
decay, then saturate the remainder in salts and aro- 
matics to prevent any change taking place in it. The 
drugs used are more or less valuable, the work more or 
less carefully done, the appearance of the mummy 
more or less luxurious, according to the price given ; 
but the result is the same in all cases — the body lasts 
instead of perishing, and its perpetuity guarantees 
that of its double. 

Psarou is of too high rank for any hesitation to be 
possible even for a minute ; the first class of embalm- 
ment is ordered for him. Besides, Pharaoh has in- 
formed the family that he will defray all the expenses 
of it in consideration of the services of the deceased. 
The corpse is undressed, washed, stretched upon the 
ground, the head to the south, under the direction of a 
master of the ceremonies. A prayer is said, and a 
surgeon passes a curved instrument up the left nostril, 
with which he breaks the divisions of the skull and 
withdraws the brain piece by piece. Another prayer, 
and a scribe tracks a line in ink about four inches long 
upon the left side of the stomach above the groin, at 
the exact spot where Horus opened the body of Osiris. 
Another prayer, and an eviscerator makes the incision 
with an Ethiopian stone knife. It is considered 
sacrilege to open a human body, so as soon as the 
operator has accomplished his task the assistants attack 
him, hustle and abuse him, and drive him from the 
room with sticks and stones. One of the embalmers 
thrusts his hand into the wound with every mark of 
profound respect, and rapidly removes the intestines, 
heart, lungs — all the vital organs — washes the cavities 
with palm wine, and fills them with crushed aromatics. 
One last prayer, and the funeral workmen carry the 
mutilated remains of what was Psarou, to plunge them 
into the bath of liquid natron in which they must soak 
for seventy days. 

Whilst they are being slowly impregnated with im- 



mortality, twenty workshops of different trades are busy 
preparing a trousseau and furniture for the double, 
worthy of the rank he occupied in this world and that 
he hopes to regain in the next. It is really a house 
that is being prepared for him, with equal, if not 
superior, luxury to that he had enjoyed during his 
life. Sculptors are engaged in forming statuettes by 
the dozen, seated, standing, squatting. Engravers are 
preparing beautiful steles upon which posterity may 
read his name, functions, and titles, the eulogy of his 
virtues, the assurance of his perfect felicity. Potters 
are baking figurines of blue and green enamel ; gold- 
smiths are working at rings, finger-rings, and collars ; 
hairdressers are preparing wigs of every shape — high, 
low, with or without curls, black or blue. He has 
already in reserve a storehouse full of armchairs, stools, 
beds, tables, linen and perfume chests, to which is now 
added the new furniture 
for which he has j ust been 
measured — the coffins. He 
must have two at least, 
exactly fitting each other, 
the outline following the 
general lines of a human 
body, or rather mummy. 
The feet and legs are 
joined together. The 
curves of the knee, calf 
of the leg, thigh, and 
stomach, are vaguely mo- 
delled in the wood. The 
head reproduces the fea- 
tures of Psarou, a little 
idealised (Fig. 76) ; the 
cheeks arc full, the mouth 
smiling, and large enamel 
eyes fastened into bronze eyelids give to the physi< 
ognomy a strikingly life-like expression. 

Fig. 76. — A Mummy's Head in 
the Coffin. 


The dead man in his coffins resembles a statue of 
himself, which can stand upon its feet as upon a base 
when necessary. Then there are some requisite but less 
important objects to be made, useful for his comfort 
and pleasure — chariots for travelling upon the earth, 
small boats for crossing the water or for transporting 
his harvests, weapons for war and for hunting, games 
of different kinds, particularly draughts with many- 
coloured pieces, the instruments required for his work 
as a scribe, palettes, kalams, cups, pastilles of colour 
and of dry ink ; even a small library, traced upon 
pieces of calcareous stone, containing extracts of 
novels, pieces of poetry, and religious hymns. The 
dead, to be quite happy in his eternal home, must find 
in it the equivalent of all that he has liked upon earth. 
Meanwhile his family pass the long days of waiting in 
tears and sadness. They take no baths, and scarcely 
wash themselves. They abstain from wine, meat, and 
wheaten bread, living on black bread and water. The 
men allow the hair and beard to grow. The women 
abstain from dressing their hair, rouging their eyes 
and face, or dyeing their hands with henna. Twice 
a-day they meet in the mortuary chamber to weep 
together. The master's death has suspended the whole 
course of the ordinary life of the house. 

The body taken from the brine is but a skeleton, 
covered with ( -a yellowish, parchment-like skin ; but 
the head has retained nearly all its purity of form. 
The cheeks are slightly hollowed, the lips are thinner, 
the nostrils are finer, more drawn than during life, 
but the face is not changed ; but for the immobility 
of the features and the brown colour of the skin, 
beneath which the blood no longer flows, one might 
say that Psarou still lives and w r ill soon awake 
(Fig. 77). The embalmers take advantage of the sup- 
pleness which the natron has preserved in the limbs to 
place the feet closely together and to cross the arms. 
They wad the stomach and chest with linen and saw- 

jr M <tw 

Fig. 77.— A Mummy's Head : the King Seti I. from a Photograph taken 
from the Corpse preserved in the Museum at Boulak. 




dust mixed with aromatic powders, then commence the 
wrapping of the body. Their profession obliges them 
to be priests and expert magicians as well as skilful 
surgeons. They fulfil towards the corpse those duties 
which Anubis and the children of Horus accomplished 
for Osiris in the fabrication of the first mummy, like 
incarnate forms of these divinities. The funeral swathe 
becomes in their hands a lacing of mystic bands, each 
with its own signification, destined to guard the body 
from all the dangers and all the enemies which threaten 
it — gods and men as well as insects and decay ; in it 
they place amulets, figurines, dry flowers, blades of 
grass, plates covered with hieroglyphics, which form a 

kind of magic armour 
for the dead. The mas- 
ter of the ceremonies 
fastens at the dead 
man's throat a scara- 
baeus of green jasper 
bearing an inscription, 
which forbids his heart, 
* the heart which came 
to him from his mother, 
the heart which accom- 
panied him upon the 
earth, to rise up and witness against him before the 
tribunal of Osiris.' Rings of gold and of blue or 
green enamel are placed upon his fingers as amulets, 
which give him a correct voice and enable him to 
recite prayers with the intonation which renders them 
irresistible. The head disappears beneath a lawn 
mask and a network of gummed bands, which almost 
double its size. The limbs and trunk are wrapped in 
a first layer of supple, soft stuff, warm to the touch 
(Fig. 78). Pieces of half -pulverised natron are thrown 
here and there as relays of preservatiTe materials. 
Packets placed in the interstices of the legs, between 
the arms and hips, in the hollow of the stomach and 

Fig. 78. — Wrapping up the Mummy. 



round the neck, enclose the heart, spleen, dried frag- 
ments of the brain, the hair, and parings of the beard 
or nails. In magic the hair plays an important role : 
by burning it with certain incantations almost un- 
limited power is acquired over the person to whom 
it has belonged. The embalmers therefore conceal 
with the mummy all the hair they have been forced to 

Tauchea ; c^diw 

Fig. 79. — The Master of the Ceremonies reciting Prayers during 
the Swathing of the Mummy. 

cut from it, this being the surest method of preserving 
it from the malignant uses which sorcerers would put 
it to. Over this first, garment a long piece of linen is 
wound, upon which a caligraphic scribe has copied a 
selection of the text or the vignettes of the chapters 
contained in the Book for Going Out during the Day. 
If Psarou read them he will recover his senses, he can 
leave his tomb or return to it as he will, he will gain 
the favour of the gods he is likely to meet in the paths 



of the other life, he can embark upon the boat of the 
sun or rest in the fields of the blessed, under the 
paternal sceptre of Osiris. A few turns with the ban- 
dages, then another layer of stuff, then new bandages, 
finally a last shroud of coarse canvas nd a red linen 
sheet sewn at the back and held by bands arranged 
parallelly from the head to the feet (Fig. 79). As 
every piece is placed the master of the ceremonies re^ 

Fig. 80.— The Mummy finished. 

cites a prayer defining its nature and efficacy (Fig. 80) ; 
at intervals he bends over the corpse and murmurs 
mysterious instructions in a low voice, which no living 
person may hear without sin. The wrapping ended, 
Psarou knows the use of everything that has been 
given to him, and the advantages which he will derive 
from it in the other world : mummy and double, he 
is ready for the tomb. 




The cemetery at Thebes — Violations of the sepulchres — Leaving the 
mortuary house — The procession — The mourners and their songs 
— Crossing the Nile — The arrival at the tomb — The offerings and 
the farewells before the gates — The tomb: its arrangement, furni- 
ture, revenue — The ceremonies of the opening of the mouth — The 
funeral meal, the dances, the harpist and his song — The future of 
the double after death — Its travels — The sycamore of Nut — The 
tribunal of Osiris. 

The cemetery of Thebes is situated upon the left bank 
of the Nile, in a detached chain of the Libyan moun- 
tains, which ends exactly opposite the great temple of 
Amen.* The principal height is hewn perpendicularly, 
and is pierced by deep valleys in every direction ; it is 
preceded by a range of sandy hills, separated from each 
other by ravines. When Thebes was still a small city 
the inhabitants buried their dead in the small mound 
nearest to the stream. As it became more populous 
the necropolis increased in size, and, growing towards 
the west, filled the valley of Davr-el-Bahari, Since 
then it has been perpetually enlarged towards the 
south-west, and every height, every turn of the land, 
has been gradually invaded by the hypogea. Now it 
is really a city of the dead, that extends some distance 
from the Nile, as a pendant to that of the living, and 
that, like it, has its rich quarters, its districts for the 

* Not knowing the ancient names of these localities, I have been 
fo>ced in this chapter to use the modern Arab names. Dayr-el-Bahari, 
Drah-abou'1-Neggah, Gournah, El Assassif, Medmet-Abou are all ana- 
chronisms that I have been unable to avoid. 


poor, its palaces and chapels. Some fifteen small 
pyramids still standing upon the ridge of Drah-abouT- 
Neggah mark the spot where the Pharaohs of the 
eleventh and twelfth dynasties repose, surrounded by 
the highest officials of their court. Amenophis I. and 
his mother, Nefertari, are placed at the entrance of 
El Assassif, and there receive a solemn worship which 
renders them the protecting divinities of the canton. 
Thothmes II., Thothmes III., and their sister, Hat- 
shepset, sleep beneath the terraces of Dayr-el-Bahari. 
The less-known Pharaohs, princes who have not reigned, 
princesses of the blood royal, the great officials of the 
crown, statesmen, generals, and administrators of the 
past divide the interval, almost grouped by epochs. 
The traveller, carefully visiting the whole district, sees 
the histoiy of Theban Egypt gradually unrolled before 
him, illustrated by the tombs of those who made it. 

Groups of mud huts, scattered in the hollows of the 
ravines, shelter the police- soldiers, the watchmen and 
their families, the workmen who hew out the funeral 
galleries and those who decorate them, the lower clergy 
attached to the funeral and commemorative services, and 
the sellers of offerings. There is not one amongst these 
poor people that does not know the quantity of gold 
and jewels buried daily with the mummies, and these 
riches, heaped round them a few feet below the earth, 
are a perpetual temptation, which they never resist. 
Violations of the sepulchres are common occurrences 
with them, and form their surest method of enriching 
themselves. The timid amongst them trust no one, 
and work alone, touching only the old monuments be- 
longing to extinct families, and therefore seldom entered. 
The others combine together, pay a high price for the 
complicity of the local police, and boldly spoil the recent 
sepulchres, sometimes even the royal ones. Not con- 
tent with taking the furniture placed in the tombs, 
they open the coffins, unpack or break the bodies to 
steal the jewels, then rearrange the fragments and 


fabricate false mummies, so skilfully arranged that 
they cannot outwardly be distinguished from the true 
ones ; the first bandages must be removed before the 
fraud can be discovered. From time to time some of 
the criminals are captured or denounce their com- 
panions. The count-nomarch and the chief prophet of 
Amen, who have the jurisdiction over this portion of 
the nome, order an inquiry. A commission examines 
the damage that has been done and seeks for the guilty 
parties. The tribunal condemns half-a-dozen to be 
impaled, and twenty to be beaten. Two months later, 
the impression produced by this severity has faded 
away, and the depredations recommence. 

Psarou has returned to his dwelling once more. He 
has been placed upon a state bed ; four large alabaster 
vases, the Canoptic jars containing the viscera, being 
placed beneath it. Each bears a cover of different shape ; 
one has the head of a man, another that of a jackal, the 
third of a hawk, the fourth of a cynophelus. They 
represent the gods of the four quarters of the world, 
the sons of Horus, Hapi and Amset, Tuamautef and 
Kebhsenuf ; they watch the dead, and prevent the in- 
ternal organs, the most fragile and yet the most neces- 
sary to life, from being stolen or destroyed. And now 
his tomb is waiting for him, his furniture is ready, his 
parents and friends have been summoned to escort him, 
the morning has risen for him ' to go and hide his 
head in the funeral valley,' and to ' reunite himself to 
the earth.' At this supreme moment his wife and 
servants make a last effort to prevent his departure. 
They cling to the mummy and throw themselves 
howling upon the men who have come to fetch it ; at 
last they yield, and Psarou crosses the threshold of his 
home for ever. 

A group of slaves and vassals bearing offerings 
lead the procession (Fig. 80*). The first six carry 
cakes, flowers, jars of water, bottles of liqueur, and 
vials of perfume. One holds before him three large 



birds upon a light saddle ; another leads the calf for 
sacrifice ; six carry painted boxes, destined to contain 
part of the food provided and part of the funeral 
figurines ; lastly, two carry between them a low table, 
upon which are heaped pots fall of fruit and branches 

Fig. 80*. — The Funeral Procession : Slaves bearing Offerings. 

of palm. This is the provision of food. The following 
group is entrusted with the usual furniture — chests of 
linen, folding stools, armchairs, a state bed ; two 
grooms bend beneath the weight of a chariot, with 
its yoke and quiver ; an equerry leads another chariot, 
drawn by a pair of horses (Fig. 81). The furniture 

Fig. 81. — The Funeral Procession : Carriage and passage 
of the Chariots. 

for the funeral chambers is in the hands of a third de- 
tachment, more numerous than the two others put 
together. First, the flagons for the libations ; then a 
case, painted in red and white squares, intended to 
hold the Canoptic jars; then the jars themselves; then, 
upon square trays, a mask in gilded cardboard relieved 
with blue (Fig. 82), weapons, sceptres, batons of com- 



mand, collars, scarabaei, hawks standing with their 
wings extended in a circle, to be worn on the breast 
upon festival days, chains, figurines, a human-headed 
hawk, the image of the soul (Fig. 83). Many of these 
objects are of massive gold, others are only gilded, 
some are of wood covered with gold. On all sides the 

Fig. 82. — The Funeral Procession : the Furniture. 

precious metal shines with a profusion which excites 
the admiration and envy of the crowd assembled to 
watch the procession. It is surely too great a defiance 
of human cupidity to openly display all this wealth, 


Fig 83. — The Funeral Procession : the Weapons and 

and the watchmen attached to Psarou's hypogeum will 
have much to do if they wish to preserve it from thieves. 
More offerings, then a noisy group of mourners, a 
slave, who from time to time throws a few drops of 
milk upon the ground as though to allay the dust ; a 
master of the ceremonies, who, with a panther's skin 
over one shoulder, sprinkles the crowd with scented 
water with a large golden spoon (Fig. 84) ; behind him. 



the catafalque at last appears (Fig. 85). It is, as usual, 
shaped like a boat mounted upon a sledge, drawn by a 
double team of oxen and fellahs ; the bark of Osiris, 
with its two mourners, Isis and Nephthys, and its 
closed cabin, which conceals the mummy from the 

Fig. 84. — The Funeral Procession : the Mourners and 
the Priests. 

crowd. Khait and her children walk anywhere, in 
front, behind, or at the sides of the coffin ; then follow 
the friends of the family, cane in hand, wrapped in 
their long festival cloaks, and lastly, the crowd of 

Fig. 85. — The Funeral Procession : the Catafalque followed 
b_y the Friends. 

sightseers. The procession passes through the winding 
streets at the slow pace of the oxen, stopping all traffic 
and circulation, stopping itself upon the smallest pre- 
text : one might say that Psarou, regretting his de- 
parture from the world, endeavours to prolong his 
sojourn here, if but for a few hours. Funerals at 
Thebes are not silent processions, in which grief is 
scarcely betrayed, save by a few furtive tears. The 


dead require a noise, sobs, and extravagant gestures. 
The family not only hire mourners, whose trade is to 
cry aloud, to tear their hair, to sing their lamentations, 
and conscientiously to portray the utmost despair, but 
the relations and friends of the deceased do not hesitate 
to make a spectacle of themselves, and to disturb, by 
their sorrow, the indifference of passers-by. Sometimes 
one of the groups, sometimes the other, utters some brief 
sentence suitable to the occasion. ' To the West, the 
dwelling of Osiris ; to the West, thou who wert the best 
of men, who always detested duplicity/ And the hired 
mourners reply in chorus : ' Oh, chief, as thou goest to 
the West, the gods themselves lament, as thou goest to 
the West!' The ox-driver, goading on his oxen, says, 
to encourage them, 'To the West, oh, bulls that draw 
the catafalque, to the West ! Your master is behind 
you.' 'To the West! ' repeat the friends; 'the excellent 
man who loved truth and hated falsehood lives no 
more.' The lamentations die away at intervals, and 
for a few minutes the procession wends its way in 
silence. But soon one of the hired mourners recom- 
mences, the others join her, and the tumult begins 
again, louder and more lugubrious than ever. The 
lament is not remarkable for either originality of 
thought or deep feeling. Grief is expressed by 
regular forms which never vary; the habit of attending 
funerals, and of joining in these manifestations, soon 
leads each person to compose a rather monotonous 
repertory of exclamations and condolences. The wish 
' To the West ' is the foundation of them all ; a few 
commonplace epithets are added to it, and all is said. 
The near relations onlv sometimes find sincere accents 
and touching images to express their sorrow. With 
inarticulate cries, appeals, and formulas, the} 7 " mingle 
praise of their dead with eulogies of his virtues, allu- 
sions to his tastes and actions, to the position he has 
filled, the honours he has obtained, reflections upon the 
uncertainty of human life, and counsels against the 



dangers of the life beyond the tomb : a melancholy 
refrain which each generation repeats over the preceding 
one, until, in their turn, the following generation 
chants it over them. 

On the banks of the Nile the procession embarks. 
The bearers of offerings, friends and slaves crowd into 
three hired barges. The professional mourners and 
the members of the family enter two of Psarou's boats, 
which have been dismasted ; the outside of the cabin 
has been covered with striped drapery, in embroidered 
stuff or cut leather, to represent a monumental socle, 

in which the, passengers stand, their faces turned 
towards the funeral bark (Fig. 86). Th< latter is built 
in exact imitation of the mysterious skiff used for the 
obsequies of Osiris, and now adored in the small city of 
Abydos, under the name of Noshemit (Fig. 87). It is 
swift, light and long, decorated at each end by a lotus 
flower in metal, which bends gracefully as though 
drooping by its own weight. A chapel stands in the 
centre, adorned with flowers and green palms. Khait 
and her daughters crouch lamenting at the sides ; 
two priestesses, dressed like the goddesses Isis and 
Nephthys, stand behind so as to protect the body ; the 



master of the ceremonies places himself in the front 
and burns some grains of incense. The mourners' boat 
takes this funeral bark in tow, and the whole flotilla 
starts under the efforts of some fifty rowers. 

This is the solemn moment, when Psarou, leaving 
the city where he has lived, commences his journey 
beyond the tomb. The crowd assembled on the banks 
salute him with their good wishes: 'Mayest thou land in 
peace to the west of Thebes ! In peace, in peace to- 


Fig. 87. —The Funeral Procession : the Bark of the Dead. 

wards Abydos! Descend in peace towards Abydos, 
towards the western sea ! ' In fact, this passage across 
the Nile is of great importance to the future of the dead. 
The voyage from this earth to the * other land ' is not 
accomplished with equal facility at every place : like 
most nations, the Egyptians know the exact spot from 
whence the souls depart for their entrance to the new 
world. It is a cleft in the mountain to the west of 
Abydos ; no one can enter it without the aid of Osiris 
on his bark, and the transport of the mummy beyond 
the Nile is the emblem of the supernatural journey 
which the soul undertakes in order to reach the mouth 


of the cleft. The departure for the Thebes of the dead 
is, in fact, a departure for Abydos, and this is why the 
name of Abydos is mingled with that of Thebes in the 
shouts of the crowd. The voices of the dead man's 
friends are the most frequently heard and they are the 
most sorrowful : ' To the West, to the West — the land of 
the righteous ! The place which thou lovedst mourns 
and laments!' And the hired mourners: 'In peace, in 
peace, to the West ; oh, praiseworthy prince, go in peace ! 
If it please god, when the eternal day cometh, we shall 
see thee again, for thou goest to the land where all men 
are equal ! ' Khait, carried away by her grief, forgets 
the conventional formulas : ' Oh, my husband ! oh, my 
brother ! oh, my beloved ! stay, live in thy place ; do 
not leave this terrestrial spot where thou art ! Alas ! 
thou goest towards the ferry-boat to cross the river ! 
Oh ! sailors, do not hurry, leave him ; you will return to 
your homes, but he is going to the eternal land ! Oh ! 
bark of Osiris, why art thou come to take him from 
me, that he should now abandon me ! ' 

The sailors remain deaf to this appeal, and the 
pilot interrupts the dirges of the hired mourners : 
' Steady, up there on the platform, for we are close to 
land.' The rebound of the shock which the boat re- 
ceives in touching would make them lose their balance 
and throw them into the water, if no one warned them. 
Whilst the Ipat containing the friends manoeuvres in 
order to draw up to the banks, its rudder strikes the 
side of a small sloop behind, and upsets some of the 
offerings which it contains (Fig. 88), but no one pays 
any attention to this accident, and the friends continue 
their dirge without disturbing themselves. * He is 
happy, the great one, for destiny allows him to go and 
rest in the tomb that he has prepared for himself; he 
obtains the good-will of the Theban Chonsu and the 
god has granted that he shall depart for the West 
escorted by generations of his servants, all in tears.' 
The mummy is replaced upon the sledge, the groups 



rearrange themselves in their former order, and the 
procession goes towards the hill of Sheikh Abd-el- 
Gournah. It is here, upon the Forehead of Thebes* 
in the neighbourhood of the cave where the serpent 
goddess Miritskro utters her oracles and accomplishes 
her miraculous cures, that Psarou has built his ' eternal 
house/ between the hypogea of Rekhmiri, of Mankhop- 
irrisonbou, of Pahsoukhirou, and of the great statesmen 
who distinguished the reign of Thothmes III. or of 
his sons. The path which leads to it is too steep for 
the oxen to climb with the enormous weight which is 
dragging behind them. The friends take the catafalque 
upon their shoulders, and ascend, staggering beneath 

Fig. 88. — The Funeral Procession : the Friends' Boat striking 

the Sloop. 

the load, by the uncertain paths which wind amongst 
the tombs. 

At last they pause, quite out of breath, nearly half- 
way up the ascent, upon a small platform cut in the 
flank of the hill ; here is a piece of rock hewn straight 
down like a facade, with a low, narrow door opening in 
the centre. Having reached the end of its journey, 
the mummy is placed standing upon a heap of sand, its 
back to the wall, its face turned to the assembled 

* The Forehead of Thebes (ta tohnii) appears to have been the 
name of the highest of the hills of Sheikh Abd-el-Gournah. The 
cave, which is well known to the fellahs, who avoid showing it to 
Europeans, is now consecrated to the Mussulman sheikh, v^bo cured 
cases of rheumatism chiefly, like the goddess Miritskro had formerly 


party, like the master of a new house, whose friends 
have accompanied him to the door, and who turns back 
for a moment upon the threshold to bid them farewell 
before entering. A sacrifice, an offering, a prayer, a 
fresh outburst of sorrow ; the mourners redouble their 
lamentations, and roll upon the ground ; the women of 
the family adorn the mummy with flowers, press it to 
their nude bosoms, and embrace its breast and knees. 

* I am thy sister, thy wife Khait ! Oh, great one, do 
not leave me ! Is it truly thy wish, my good father, 
that I should go from thee ? If I leave thee, thou 
wilt be alone, and will any one be with thee to follow 
thee? Oh, thou who delightedst to jest with me, thou 
art silent, thou dost not speak ! ' An old servant, 
crouching behind her mistress, exclaims, 'Our guardian 
is then torn from us, and he leaves his slaves ! ' Then 
the mourners recommence their chorus. ' Cry aloud ! 
cry aloud ! Make your lamentations. Lament and 
cease not, cry as loudly as you can ! Oh, excellent 
traveller, who art going to the land of eternity, thou 
hast been torn from us ! Oh, thou who hadst so many 
around thee, thou art now in the land which imposes 
isolation. Thou, who lovedst to open thy legs and walk, 
art now chained, bound, swathed! Thou who hadst much 
fine stuff and who lovedst white linen, art now clothed 
in the garments of yesterday ! She who weeps for thee 
is become like, one bereaved of her mother ; her bosom 
veiled, she laments and mourns, she rolls round thy 
funeral couch.' Indifferent, in the midst of this 
clamour, the priest offers the usual incense and liba- 
tions, with the consecrated phrase : ' To thy double, 
Osiris, count-nomarch of Thebes, Psarou, whose voice 
is righteous before the great god' (Fig. 89). The 
mummy disappears in the tomb, borne in the arms of 
two men ; the night of the other world has seized it, 
and will never release it. 

Like all well-arranged dwellings, the tomb includes 
state apartments, a chapel — where the double receives 



the homage and presents of his relations upon festival 
days — and private apartments, which no one may enter 
but himself. Psarou's chapel is composed of two rooms: 
one, wider than it is long, runs parallel to the facade ; 
the other, longer than it is wide, opens perpendicularly 
to the former, opposite the entrance door. Its walls 
are covered with paintings executed in fresco upon a 
coating of beaten, polished earth, which represent 
every imaginable scene of life. We there see depicted, 
one above the other from the floor to the ceiling, 
ploughing, sowing, reaping, harvesting the wheat, 

Fig. 89. — The Funeral : the Farewells before the Door of the Hypogeum. 

raising the cattle, fishing, hunting in the desert; the 
workshops of the carpenter, wheelwright, sculptor, 
goldsmith, glassworker, baker ; the preparation of food, 
then a great dinner, with music and dances by the 
almahs. These form so many talismans, which have 
the virtue of securing the effective enjoyment of these 
objects. If the double be hungry it chooses one of the 
painted oxen, follows it through the series of pictures 
from the pasture to the butcher, the kitchen, and the 
banquet. Whilst it looks at them the actions repre- 
sented become real ; when it sees its portrait upon the 
wall take a roast joint from the hands of the servant, 
the joint is before it, gratifying its eyes and satisfying 
its appetite. Rich doubles of high rank are seldom 
1] i 


obliged to resort to this arrangement during the early 
period of their subterranean existence. The widow, 
children, or parents frequently bring or send them 
offerings through their sacrifices. They offer a bull, 
geese, wine, and cakes to their favourite god, Amen or 
Osiris, Ptah or Chonsu ; the god retains a portion of 
the good things for himself and transmits the re- 
mainder to the souls commended to him. There are 
also contracts made with the priests of a temple, who, 
in exchange for an annual payment or a donation, 
undertake to celebrate commemorative services, to re- 
provision the tomb a certain number of times every 
year at fixed dates. 

Yet, in spite of all the care taken to provide for 
the future, the day arrives when the offerings finally 
cease. The family becomes extinct, changes its home, 
forgets its old dead ; the priests, no longer watched, 
neglect the terms of the contract ; the double, deprived 
of everything, would die of hunger if it had not the 
means upon its walls of eternally satisfying its appetite. 
One last ceremony invests it with a new faculty which 
differs from any that it has hitherto possessed. The 
process of embalmment has transformed the man's body 
into an i erf, powerless form, incapable of walking, 
eating, speaking, seeing, or accomplishing any of the 
functions of existence ; these effects must be cancelled 
if he is to liv,e again, and this end is attained by the 
opening of the mouth and its complicated rites. The 
master of the ceremonies and his assistants, the children 
of Horus, once more stand Psarou upright upon a heap 
of sand at the end of the chapel, and accomplish round 
him the same divine mysteries which Horus had cele- 
brated round the mummy of Osiris. They purify him 
by common water and by red water, by incense from 
the south and by alum from the north, in the same 
waj T as the statues of the gods are purified at the com- 
mencement of a sacrifice ; then they execute various 
rites which awaken the double from the sleep in which 


it is plunged, free it from its shroud, bring back the 
shadow which it lost at the time of death, and 
restore the power of movement. Then the sacred 
butchers kill the bull of the south and cut it up, the 
priest seizes the bloody leg and raises it towards the 
lips of the gilded mask, as though inviting it to eat, 
but the lips remain closed and refuse to perform their 
office ; he then touches them with several instruments, 
with wooden hands and iron blades, which are sup- 
posed to open them. The double is henceforth free ; 
it comes and goes at will, sees, hears, speaks, takes its 
share of the offerings, and at once uses its new power 
to invite all who accompany it to a banquet, the first 
given in Psarou's eternal home. 

A passage, cut at the most distant corner of the 
second hall, leads to a kind of cell, naked, low, without 
paintings or ornaments of any kind : this is Psarou's 
room, the spot where his mummy will repose until the 
end of the centuries, if it please the gods to preserve it 
from thieves. The workmen of the necropolis lay the 
double coffin, with its wreaths, close to the west wall ; 
the slaves bring in the Canoptic jars, the caskets, furni- 
ture, and provisions which have accompanied the proces- 
sion during the day, and place them on the ground ; 
the priest recites a last prayer and retires ; the masons 
rapidly build a brick wall before the door. The sound 
of their trowels ceases at last, the noise of their steps 
dies away and is lost, the end of a torch they had left 
in the room burns itself out. However, in the upper 
room, upon the platform, and in the chapel the slaves 
have commenced to serve the banquet. The statue of 
the dead, sculptured in relief at the back of the second 
hall, presides over the festival, and receives the first 
portion of each dish. The objects have a soul, a double, 
like men or animals, and this double, once passed into 
the other world, enjoys the same properties which its 
body possessed in this one. The double of a chair or 
bed is really a chair or a bed for the double of a man. 
The double of Pharou, present at the festival, enjoys 



the double of the liqueurs and of the viands quite as 
fully as its still living guests can do the real liquids and 
the food. Whilst all present, visible or invisible, are 
eating, the almahs sing and execute their dances 
(Fig. 90). Sometimes they address themselves directly 
to the dead, sometimes to the living, but the same 
refrain is always heard in their songs : ' Make a good 
day ; life only lasts for a moment. Make a good day ; 
when you have entered your tombs you will rest there 

Fig. 90.- 

-The Dance of the Almahs. 

for ever, all the hours of each day.' The repast is 
finished at last, all must now leave and break the last 
link which still holds the dead to his family. The 
sacred harpist plays a prelude, then standing before 
the statue, he chants the dirge first sung long ago at 
the funeral of the Pharaoh Antouf. ' The world/ he 
says, 'is but perpetual movement and change.. It is 
an admirable decision of the great Osiris, a beautiful 
arrangement of destiny, that as one body is destroyed 
and disappears, others come after him ever since the 
most ancient times. The Pharaohs, those gods who 



Fig. 91.— The Harpist. 

have lived before us and who repose in their pyramids, 
their mummies and their doubles 
are also buried in their pyramids, 
but the castles that they have 
built they have no place therein 

—all is over for them Do 

not, therefore, despair, but follow 
thy desire and thine happiness so 
long as thou art upon the earth, 
and do not wear out thine heart 
until the day comes for thee in 
which man prays, without Osiris, 
the god whose heart has ceased 
to beat, listening to the prayer. 

Not all the lamentations in the world will restore hap- 
piness to the man who is in the sepulchre ; make, then, 
a good day, and do not be idle in enjoying thyself. 
Certainly no man can carry his wealth to the other 
world with him ; certainly no man ever went there and 
came back again ! ' 

What becomes of the double after the funeral ? 
The bulk of the population have very vague ideas upon 
this point. They are content to think that it inhabits 
the tomb, and there leads an uncertain existence, 
scarcely conscious of itself. It never comes out unless 
it has no food and is driven by hunger : it is then seen 
wandering in the villages at night, and eagerly 
throwing itself upon the remnants of food thrown into 
the streets. Misery then produces a feeling of hatred 
and vengeance against the living who have forsaken it ; 
it attacks them, tortures them, and afflicts them with 
illness. Certain doubles do not wait for the moment 
when they are forgotten before they injure the living ; 
they are instinctively bad, and take a certain pleasure 
in persecuting their nearest relations. The scribe Qeni 
was haunted for months by the spirit of his wife Onk- 
hari. He had always treated her well while she was in 
the world, had given her an expensive funeral, and left 
her a considerable income ; yet she was angry with him, 


and continually returned to disturb him. He could 
only free himself from the annoyance by threatening 
her with a legal action. He wrote to her asking the 
reason of her posthumous rage, and reminding her of 
all the affection that he had shown her. ' Since I 
became thy husband until this day what have I done 
against thee that I should hide ? What wilt thou do 
when I am obliged to bear witness as to my treatment 
of thee when I appear \n ith thee before the tribunal of 
Osiris to plead my own cause before the gods of the 
West, and thou wilt be judged according to this writing, 
which will contain my complaints against thee — what 
wilt thou do ? ' The roll of papyrus, attached to a 
wooden statuette of the woman and placed in the tomb, 
reached its address : Onkhari, fearing to be called in 
judgment before Osiris, ceased to torment the poor man. 
Many of the faithful, to whom the prospect of such 
a gloomy seclusion is extremely repugnant, suppose 
that the soul leaves the funeral chamber after a longer 
or shorter sojourn there, and emigrates to ' another 
land.' In the regions to which the mouth of the cleft 
gives access* there are kingdoms of the dead which are 
each placed under the sovereignty of a different god 
— Khontamentit, Phtah-Socharis, and Osiris. Here 
they welcome the souls of the Egyptians who have 
had a special devotion for the sovereign divinity and 
have declared themselves his vassals — amakhou. The 
kingdom of Osiris is the most populated amongst 
them. It is formed of several islands, of which the 
outlines are visible from our earth, in the north-east 
of heaven at the southern extremity of the Milky 
Way. It cannot be reached without a long and 
dangerous voyage. The soul, upon leaving its tomb, 
must turn its back to the valley and boldly enter the 
desert. It will soon encounter one of those sycamores 
which grow far from the Nile, and which the fellahs 
consider fairy trees. A goddess — Nut, Hathor, or 
Neith — will show herself partially through the 
foliage, and will hold out a dish covered with loaves 



and a vase full of water (Fig. 92). Whoever accepts 
these gifts becomes through them a guest of the 
goddess, and henceforth he cannot retrace his steps 
without special permission. 
A frightful country ex- 
tends beyond the sycamore, 
infested by serpents and 
savage animals, divided by 
torrents of boiling water, 
interspersed with marshes 
in which gigantic monkeys 
catch the doubles in a net. 
Many souls succumb to the 
dangers of the road and 
die ; those only who are 
provided with amulets and 
powerful incantations at 
last reach the shores of an 
immense lake, the lake of 
Kha, from whence they can 
discern the happy islands 
afar off. Thoth, the ibis, 
lifts them upon his wings, 
or the divine ferryman 

takes them into his boat and conducts them to Osiris. 
The god questions them before his forty-two assessors. 
Thoth weighs their heart in his scales. Maat, the 
goddess of Truth, whispers to them the negative con- 
fession, which in each article declares them to be 
innocent of a sin (Fig. 93) ; they are at last acknow- 
ledged to be worthy of entering the Fields of Beans with 
the blessed. The Fields of Beans (Sokhit-Ialou) are 
of inexhaustible fertility ; the wheat is seven cubits 
high, two of the cubits being ear. The dead cultivate 
and harvest it, carrying in the grain by turns. They 
may be replaced if they like by small enamelled statues, 
which are placed in the tomb with them, and which 
are called the Ushabti or Answerers, because they 

Fig. 92 

-The Sycamore of 












• l-t 

answer for their 
master each time 
that he is called 
for the work. 
The remainder of 
the time is spent 
in perpetual 
feasting, singing, 
long conversa- 
tions, and games 
of every kind. 
Many people con- 
sider that this 
conception of the 
other world is too 
material to be 
true, and they 
try to imagine a 
higher destiny 
for the soul ; the 
priests of Amen- 
ra hold secret 
doctrines upon 
this subject, 
which they do 
not like to reveal. 
These are specu- 
lations of the 
theologians in 
which the people 
do not meddle. 
Men can survive 
death, that is a 
fact ; how they 
do so, only the 
gods can know 
with any cer- 



Eameses II. in Syria — Council of war — Baoukou sent to reconnoitre 
— From Gaza to Joppa: the 8yrian fortresses — From Joppa to 
Megiddo: the forest — Megiddo: condition of the Syrian cities 
under the rule of Egypt — The sea: the navy and the maritime 
commerce of the Egyptians — Tyre: its position, its population — 
Egyptian and Phoenician vessels — Commerce between the Tyrians 
and the barbarians — Crossing Mount Lebanon — The Hittite 
army advances to attack Rameses 

Pharaoh had quitted his Theban palace long before 
the funeral of Psarou. He had reviewed the troops 
collected at Zalu, and had sent them slowly on 
towards Syria, through the desert and by the coasts 
of the Mediterranean, from Zalu to Magdilu, from 
Magdilu to Raphia and Gaza. Since Thothmes I. 
Gaza has become an Egyptian city. Rameses spends 
several days there, waiting for the rest of his army, 
receiving the reports of his officers and governors, 
consulting with his generals. All the southern part 
of the country is quiet to beyond Megiddo ; the 
Sidonian Phoenicia has not stirred, and no movement 
has been reported from the side of the Orontes. It 
might be supposed that the peace was universal, and 
that the forces of the Khita have vanished without 
leaving any trace of their presence. The king is 
puzzled to know what this apparent inertia can mean. 
His eldest son, Amenhikhopshouf, states his opinion 
that the vile chief of the Khita, despairing of a 
successful struggle in the open country against the 



Egyptian veterans, had scattered his soldiers amongst 
the fortresses, and was preparing for a defensive war. 
It would be necessary to take all the citadels of 
southern Syria one after the other (Fig. 94) : Kadesh, 
Hamath, Khilibu, Nii, and Karchemish. The strongest 
armies become worn out in these thankless duties, and 
years pass by before the enemy is beaten. Rameses 


Fig. 94. — A Syrian Fortress. 


rejects the conjectures of his son upon the ground 
that they are not based upon events that have occurred 
up to the present time. 

In fact, Khitasir has called out all the allies that 
he has secured in Asia Minor : not only the Lycians, 
but the Mysians, the Dardanians, the peoples of Ilion 
and Pedasos who dwell upon the shores of the distant 
sea, have answered his appeal, and their contingents 
have been with him for several weeks already. They 
are warlike barbarians, greedy of gain, formidable in 


battle, but they would never consent to be long away 
from their own land. Khitasir knows their tempera- 
ment, and would not have summoned them unless he 
contemplated some rapid movement. A battle must 
therefore be expected before long, and if the enemy 
do not appear, it is because their generals have con- 
cealed them in some corner of Lebanon, whence they 
will suddenly appear as soon as they see a favourable 
opportunity of surprising the Egyptians. Ilameses 
sends orders to the governors and chiefs of the 
advanced guard to redouble their vigilance and to 
explore all the country round Kadesh, to ascertain 
something of the positions occupied by the Khita. 
He also dispatches single scouts in different direc- 
tions: the captain of the mercenaries, Phrabiounamif, 
towards the east beyond the Jordan to ascertain the 
intentions of the Bedouins ; Hoi, the lieutenant of 
infantry, towards Damascus, although as a rule there 
is nothing to dread from the tribes that live in the 
Gaulan ; lastly, Baoukou, one of his equerries, towards 
Tyre and Sidon, commanding him to cross the Lebanon 
by Gabouna to join the army to the south of Kadesh, 
and to collect as much information as he can upon 
the strength and composition of the Khita forces. 
He (Pharaoh) will follow cautiously by the usual 
route from Gaza to Megiddo, from Megiddo to Kadesh, 
and will only arrange a definite plan after receiving 
the reports of his messengers. 

Baoukou, accompanied by one servant only, starts 
well armed in his chariot. He rapidly crosses the 
plain which separates Gaza from Joppa. The harvest 
has already commenced, but the country is deserted, 
and the villages that he passes are almost entirely 
abandoned. Although the Egyptian battalions are 
well disciplined, they do not include amongst their 
chief qualities any respect for the property of others, 
and all the localities through which they pass, even 
in a friendly country, are doomed to pillage. The in- 


habitants, hearing of the arrival of Rameses at Gaza, 
have collected all their valuables, jewels, furniture, and 
goods, and have taken refuge with their flocks in the 
fortified cities that, with their crenellated walls, crown 
the hills to the right and left of the road. Beyond 
Joppa the aspect of the country is changed. A red- 
dish sandy soil succeeds the black soil ; a few scattered 
oaks appear, which soon become grouped in clumps, 
then, growing closely, the forest commences. The 
trunks are knotty, twisted, badly grown ; the tallest 
are about thirty feet high, but the majority are small, 
and do not exceed the height of the brushwood. 
Muddy rivers, infested by crocodiles, wind slowly 
amongst the thicket, and lose themselves at intervals 
in pestilential marshes. It is both a curious and dis- 
quieting spectacle for an Egyptian, accustomed to the 
woodless country on the banks of the Nile, and 
Baoukou enters the forest with instinctive repugnance. 
Without counting the Bedouins who haunt these parts, 
he may encounter wild and formidable animals — 
hyenas, savage boars, and bears. It is there, so they 
say, that Kazariti, king of Assur, formerly hunted, and 
the recollection of his exploits has become popular ; 
but Kazariti was a great hunter before the Eternal, a 
legendary hero, and Baoukou is only a man — a brave 
one, no doubt, but still only a man. Alone, without 
guide or escort r he advances, a little uncertainly, upon 
badly defined paths, encumbered by stones and quag- 
mires. All his attention is absorbed in driving his 
chariot over these obstacles, and his heart is in his 
hand. He perpetually watches the thicket, fearing to 
discover some ambuscade; if a branch strikes him, or a 
bramble unexpectedly catches him, he thinks himself 
attacked, and prepares for defence. Once in turning 
round he draws his reins too tightly, the horses take 
fright and plunge to one side, the chariot upsets, he is 
thrown out, and gets up bleeding and wounded. How- 
ever, the road gradually rises, and high mountains 


appear on the horizon. The path winds in the ascent 
and passes between a wall of rocks and a deep preci- 
pice ; this is the worst point in the journey. Baoukou 
advances cautiously, step by step, alighting at the 
smallest obstacle. He cannot prevent his chariot from 
violently striking an enormous block of stone and being 
damaged by the shock. The bolts break which fasten 
the pole to the body of the chariot. He repairs them 
as well as he can, just well enough for him to reach 
the next city with a great deal of management. For- 
tunately the gorge becomes wider, the slope begins to 
descend very gently, the mountain seems to open ; 
through the gap he sees a fertile plain, and in the 
distance he descries the towers of Megiddo. 

Megiddo is placed upon the top of a rather high hill. 
It is not easy to reach ; a muddy stream, the Kanah, 
protects it on the east, and, after winding in the plain, 
joins the river Kishon through meadows and marshy 
lands. It is a small, poor town, sordid in appearance, 
but well fortified and important through its situation. 
The Syrian fortresses are not, like the Egyptian, rect- 
angles or squares, surrounded by brick walls running 
straight from one end to the other, without projections 
or recesses; their walls are built in cut stone, and 
exactly follow the outlines of the land upon which they 
are erected ; they are defended by high, square towers, 
which are heightened in war-time by the addition of 
rough wooden walls. The gates are always placed be- 
tween two towers, built so near to each other that the 
defenders can harass by arrows and stones the flank of 
the enemy, who approach to break through with axes 
or the ram. Well-fortified towns are sometimes taken 
by assault, but usually by famine. Megiddo has been 
often besieged. As it commands the principal roads 
between northern and southern Syria, between Kgypt 
and the land of Khita, the shores of the Nile and 
the Euphrates, many armies have met beneath its 
walls, and have fought there as in a closed field. 


Here Thothmes III. defeated the Syrians, who had 
combined under the leadership of the Prince of Kadesh, 
and he reduced the city after a blockade of some weeks. 
From that time it has always remained in the power of 
the Pharaohs. 

It is governed by an hereditary prince of native 
race, under the superintendence of an Egyptian gar- 
rison. As a rule, the Egyptians do not colonise the 
cities which they conquer, or place them under the 
direct authority of a governor nominated by Pharaoh. 
They generally leave the power and the royal titles to 
the sovereigns, great or small, whom they have van- 
quished, and content themselves with imposing a more 
or less heavy tribute upon them. Every year the royal 
envoys arrive from Thebes, receive the tax, and regu- 
late any difficulties that may have arisen between the 
vassal and his sovereign. They, however, possess no 
authority enabling them to interfere in the internal 
affairs of the principality : the laws and customs are pre- 
served, the priests of the local religions celebrate their 
own ritual without any constraint, and the hereditary 
succession to the throne continues according to the tradi- 
tional practice of the country. It frequently happens, 
particularly upon the accession of a new Pharaoh, that 
the Syrians endeavour to throw off this light yoke ; they 
refuse to pay the tribute, drive out or massacre the 
royal messengers, and, too feeble to resist if they were 
alone, some twenty or thirty princes combine in order 
to form a common army capable of taking the field 
and maintaining a campaign. Pharaoh hastens to the 
spot, defeats them, disperses their troops, and forces 
them to submit one after the other. Sometimes he 
forgives them and re-establishes things as they were 
before, sometimes he imprisons the rebel or puts him 
to death ; but he establishes one of the prisoner's sons 
in his place, or if the sons are too much compromised 
by the paternal revolt, one of the relations who appears 
devoted to Egypt. 


Two routes lead from Megiddo to Tyre. One, the 
longest, but the most frequented, descends to the sea, 
following the base of Mount Carmel, and passing by 
Accho, continues near the coast. The other is rather 
shorter, but it crosses a mountainous district, in which 
the inhabitants have a bad reputation. They are per- 
petually robbing isolated travellers or the rich caravans 
which pass from Tyre to Damascus ; they pillage the 
bales, keep the beasts of burden, and sell the merchants 
as slaves. Baoukou, however, decides to take this dan- 
gerous way, for he hopes to receive information upon 
the movements of the Khita through these wandering 
bandits. He makes an arrangement with one of them, 
who undertakes to conduct him near to Tyre in con- 
sideration of a handsome reward. The journey is 
accomplished without a hitch, and Baoukou gains the 
first road, a little to the north of Achshaph, safe and 
well, but having learnt nothing. Either the barbarians 
have nothing to say or they will not speak, for they 
declare that they do not know what the Khita are 
doing. They have not met any parties of the enemy 
during their excursions, and do not believe that for 
the present the Khita are in the neighbourhood of 
Kadesh. Baoukou, leaving the ravines which divide 
Mount Ousirou,* is filled with astonishment. Born 
in the Theban nome he has rarely seen the sea, and 
whenever he sees it he deems it greater and more 
beautiful than ever. From the limits of the horizon 
almost to his feet extends an immense plain of water 
dotted with sails, bordered with white foam at the places , 
where the waves dash themselves upon the rocks. 

Most foreigners believe that the Egyptians consider 
the sea impure, and that they have a horror of it, so 
that none of them willingly venture upon it. This is 
an error. The Egyptians do not dislike the sea, but 
they are not acquainted with it. Their country has 

* This is the Egyptian name of one part of the hills which the 
Jewish tribe of Ashur inhabited later on. 


very little coast, and is chiefly bordered by sand-bills 
and marshes, which render it uninhabitable. Some 
islands situated towards Rakoti,* at the eastern ex- 
tremity of the Delta, would make a good anchorage 
for merchant vessels or war galleys ; but elsewhere the 
ships overtaken by a storm have no other resource but 
to take refuge in one of the mouths of the Nile, at the 
risk of stranding or even of being lost upon the sand 
and mud-banks which render it so difficult of access. 
The Egyptians have, therefore, until now preferred the 
land routes to the sea ; however, when any accident 
forces them to face the Very- Green, f they have come 
out of their adventure with credit to themselves. The 
Nile has accustomed them to handle oars and sails 
from childhood ; the experience acquired in navigation 
upon soft water enables them to dispense with a long 
apprenticeship upon the sea. The sailors of Thebes, 
transported by Queen Hatshepset to the Red Sea, knew 
how to take their five ships to Punt, and brought them 
back laden with incense and valuable produce. The 
galleys of Rameses II. ply regularly between Tanis 
or Pi-Ramisou and Tyre ; yet the Syrian seas are 
rough, and the Phoenicians themselves, skilful as they 
claim to be, have immense trouble in avoiding the 
current which flows along their coasts, and carries to 
them the mud from the Nile. 

As Baou^ou pursues his journey his astonishment 
redoubles. The mountains press closely upon the 
shore, and the road sometimes descends upon the 
beach to avoid a peaked link of the mountain chain, 
sometimes rises and ascends in a zig-zag to cross a 
rocky spur which advances straight into the sea. In 
one spot it has been necessary to cut into the stone, and 
to hew out large steps, forming an immense ladder 

* Rakoti was the name of the small Egyptian town upon the site 
where Alexandria afterwards stood. 

+ The Very-Green is the name that the Egyptians gave to the 
two seas with which they were acquainted, the Bed Sea and the 



(Fig. 95). The waves dash with fury at the foot of 
the narrow cliff, and when a high wind rises each of 

Fig. ^5.— The Tyrian Ladders. 

its breakers shakes the whole wall like a blow from a 
ram, and detaches a fragment of the rock. Baoukou, 
although emboldened by the desert and the perils he has 


escaped, at first ventures upon this path trembling as 
he advances step by step ; but he soon realises that there 
is no serious danger and hastens his march. This is 
the last obstacle. Beyond these Tyrian Ladders the 
mountain retires inland, and leaves room for a fairly 
wide plain, bordered towards the north by a great cape. 
Cultivated fields, olive woods, shady orchards, then a 
city stretching along the sand on the edge of the water, 
and opposite another city girded with towers, which 
seems to have risen from the bottom of the sea by magic 

The first Phoenicians established themselves upon 
the continent more than twelve centuries ago and there 
founded the original Tyre, which was once prosperous. 
Their descendants afterwards settled upon the islands, 
which extended like a broken jetty parallel with the 
coast ; the new Tyre, which they then built, gradually 
ruined the old one. The site was in a wild spot, con- 
tinually beaten by the waves and wind. There was 
very little water, with the exception of a few brackish 
springs ; even now the inhabitants have only the water 
collected in their cisterns, and dainty people send boats 
every day to fetch spring water from the continent. 
However, these are minor inconveniences, if we compare 
them to the advantages secured to the Island Tyre by 
her position. In case of war the arm of the sea which 
separates her from the coast becomes a moat : behind it 
she can defy 1 all the threats of the enemy. Her fleet 
brings her provisions from a distance, and supplies her 
without the possibility of any human interference with 
as much food and as many mercenaries as she can wish 
for. She continues her trade with neutral or allied 
nations as in time of peace, and whilst uselessly 
blockaded, amasses in two or three campaigns as much 
as she requires to rebuild the old Tyre, reconstruct the 
villas, and restore the farms which have been burnt or 
pillaged during the war. The Tyrians might have 
refused the suzerainty of Pharaoh and have easily 


evaded the tribute, like their fellow-countrymen of 
Aradou, in Northern Phoenicia, had they wished to do 
so. This noble independence would have satisfied their 
vanity, but it would have injured their interests : besides 
the ravages to which their mainland would have been 
exposed, they would have been for ever excluded from 
Egypt ; that is, from the market where, at present, the 
most business is carried on. They have established the 
balance between the small wound which prompt sub- 
mission inflicted upon their vanity and the considerable 
damage which the hostility of Egypt could inflict upon 
their commerce, and have resigned themselves to paying 
a tribute, which they multiply one hundred-fold every 
year, whilst Pharaoh from that time has never owned 
more faithful vassals, or any that have given him less 

Baoukou leaves his chariot and horses at Old Tyre, 
in the house of the royal messenger who comes annually 
to collect the tribute-money, and embarks with his 
servant for New Tyre. It is built upon three small 
islands, separated from each other by shallow canals 
strewn with half- submerged rocks. The city bears no 
resemblance to any of the towns which an Egyptian is 
accustomed to see on the banks of the Nile. Here the 
smallest inch of ground is valuable, and there are 
neither gardens nor squares, nor wide irregularly built 
streets. The latter are really alleys gliding between 
the houses, which are four or five stories high, and so 
close together that they resemble the cells of a hive. 
The temples — even that of Melkarth, the most ancient 
and most venerated of them all — have but just enough 
space left round them to allow for the worship and the 
passage of the processions. The dry docks, in which 
the ships are built and repaired, lay along the canals, 
especially on the north and the south-east, in what is 
called the Sidonian and Egyptian ports. The shops are 
low and narrow, and the rooms are very small in which 
the Tyrians manufacture those purple stuffs, glass-ware, 



gold and silver vases, amulets copied from the Egyptian 
amulets, which the merchant captains carry with them, 
and scatter in profusion over all the shores of the Mediter- 
ranean. Save in the quarters near the port, or in the 

vicinity of the temple of 
Astarte, where the crews of 
newly arrived vessels spend 
their share of the profits in 
feasting, the crowd which 
fills the street is entirely 
absorbed in its business. 

The majority of the na- 
tives wear similar costumes 
(Fig. 96j : nude bust, short 
many-coloured cotton drawers, 
fastened round the waist by 
a long sash, its ends falling 
in the front ; the feet are 
either bare or protected by 
high boots reaching to the 
calf ; the hair flowing in 
ringlets, sometimes to the 
waist, and ornamented in 
front by four rows of curls. 
From this original type 
twenty others may be dis- 
tinguished — the Amorrean 
and the mountaineer from Lebanon, with his long 
red and blue robe, which forms a cape over the 
shoulders, and his hair massed in a bunch upon 
each side of his head and the nape of his neck, but 
held back in front by a head-band (Fig. 97) ; the 
Egyptian, with his white drawers and curled wig ; the 
Toursha and the Sagalasha of Asia Minor, wearing a 
mariner's red woollen cap ; the barbarous Acheans and 
Daneans, white of skin, with red or fair hair, clothed in 
an animal's skin or in a tunic ; some negroes, even, and 
some tattooed savages from Hesperia and the silver 

Fig. 96. — A Phoenician. 



and tin mines from beyond Gadir. Neither in Mem- 
• phis, Thebes, or Tarsis had Baoukou ever seen such a 
mixture of foreign types and races, and could he but 
enter the houses his stupefaction would be redoubled. In 
fact, the Tyrians are the most 
skilful agents of the slave 
trade in the whole world. 
They sell most nf the slaves 
that they import upon their 
vessels to Egyptian- or As- 
syrian merchants, but a great 
many remain upon their 
hands, particularly women 
and young girls. It is not 
only the countries of Asia 
that furnish their contin- 
gent, Chaldea, Assyria, E lam, 
Ourati, but the coasts of the 
Archipelago and Euxine 
seas, and the Achean islands, 
Lybia, and the countries 
beyond ; but with regard 
to the latter they are very 
secretive, and will neither 
disclose their situation nor 
even mention them before a 
stranger, fearing to rouse 
jealousy and perhaps excite competition. 

A few Egyptian vessels are anchored in the port, 
loading with merchandise for Tanis or Memphis. 
They nearly resemble the boats on the Nile, and are 
in fact destined for navigation upon the river as well 
as the sea (Fig. 98). The hull, placed upon a rounded 
keel, is low and narrow, raised and sharpened at each 
end, decked all over. The prow is armed with a metal 
spur, held in place by strong cords, and projecting 
about three feet out of the water, then straightened 
and overhanging the front of the ship about one yard 

Fig. 97.— A Syrian from the 



more. The poop, longer and higher than the prow, is 
surmounted by a long metal lotus-stalk with a fully- 
opened flower bending inwards. Prow and poop have 
each a deck, provided with a wooden balustrade, and 
serving as the forecastle and quarter-deck. The hold 
is not deep, and can only contain the ballast, weapons, 
cargo, and provisions. The bulwarks are about half a 
yard higher than the bridge. The short, narrow 
benches for the rowers are placed close to the bul- 
warks, leaving an empty space in the centre, where a 

Fig. 98. — An Egyptian Ship, Sailing and Bowing. 

boat, if there be one, may be put, or bales of mer- 
chandise, soldiers, slaves, or extra passengers may be 

The rowers, all Egyptians, are fifteen in a band, 
and each handles one oar. The helm is formed of two 
thick oars, supported by an upright placed on either 
side of the poop, and each managed by a helmsman 
standing before it. A single mast about eight yards 
high, and secured by two stays in front and two 
behind, stands perpendicularly in the midst. One sail 
is stretched between the two yards about fifteen yards 
long, each formed of two solidly bound pieces. The 
crew includes thirty rowers, four topmen, two helms- 
men, one pilot at the prow, who transmits to the 


helmsmen the necessary indications for steering, a 
captain, and one overseer for the galley slaves, which, 
with passengers or soldiers, make about fifty men on 
board each vessel. In battle the bulwarks are raised 
by a long mantlet, which shields the bodies of the 
rowers and leaves only their heads exposed. The 
soldiers are then distributed : two of them are placed 
upon the forecastle, a third is perched at the top of 
the mast in an improvised cross-trees ; the remainder 
are posted upon the bridge and quarter-deck, from 
whence they endeavour to shoot the archers on the 
enemy's galley. 

The Phoenician vessels differ from the Egyptian in 
details only. Built of excellent timber from Lebanon 
and Amanus, they are stronger and longer ; they are 
more seaworthy, and can undertake more dangerous 
voyages. Their crews are also more daring and skilful 
than the Egyptian. These latter rarely venture beyond 
sight of the coast. They travel within range of the 
shore by day and stop at night, continuing their course 
in the morning. In this way they succeed in the most 
dangerous voyages, in gaining the ladders of incense in 
the land of Punt ; for them it is but a question of 
time, and time does not count for much in Egypt. 
The Phoenicians have learnt to venture upon the open 
sea, and even to navigate during the night. They sail 
directly from Tyre or Sidon to the island of Asi,* from 
the isle of Asi to the promontories of Lycia and the 
distant Rhodes, then from island to island to the lands 
of the Acheans, the Daneans, and from thence towards 
Hesperia. They observe the position of the sun by 
day, and steer by the Great Bear at night. They have 
at man} r points stable establishments, which in some 
cases have developed into great cities ; elsewhere they 
only appear at certain seasons of the year, and depart 
after trading with the natives. They all disembark, 
and display on the ground, or upon rapidly erected 
* The island of Asi, Asia, is the island of Cyprus. 


stalls, the produce which they know the inhabitants 
of the country consider valuable : sometimes jewels, 
bracelets, collars, amulets of glass or enamelled stone, 
of gold or silver ; sometimes weapons, axes, swords 
damascened and chased; sometimes vases, or stuffs dyed 
purple or embroidered in brilliant colours. Most of these 
objects are of Egyptian manufacture, or fabricated in 
Phoenicia from Egyptian models more or less modified 
by the influence of the Chaldean types. We may 
thus see poignards from Egypt worn by the chiefs of 
Tyrinthe or Mycenea ; on their fingers, rings decorated 
with lotus blossoms; on their necks, cylinders of Baby- 
lonian origin. 

The exchange does not always take place without 
a quarrel, nor even without danger. Sometimes the 
natives, over-excited by the sight of so many beautiful 
things, try to obtain possession of them by craft or 
violence. They surprise the merchants that have 
landed, kill them, and even seize the vessels. But 
most frequently it is the Phoenicians who take advan- 
tage of the honesty or weakness of the natives. They 
fall upon the unarmed crowd, spoil and kill the old 
men, bind the young men, women, and children, and 
carry them into slavery ; or they invent some pretext 
for inveigling the daughters of the chiefs upon their 
vessels. They pretend that they have some 
particularly valuable jewels and materials that they 
dare not land for fear of being robbed. Whilst the 
women are looking at the goods the anchor is gently 
raised, and as soon as the ship is well away from land 
their guests are seized and bound to prevent them 
from throwing themselves overboard and swimming to 
land. Greek or Lycian women are valuable in the 
Egyptian and Assyrian markets, and more than one 
amongst them has ended her life as a slave or favourite 
in the harems of Thebes or Nineveh. 

At last Baoukou receives in Tyre some certain 
information about the Khita, and also upon the march 


of the Egyptian army. Rameses has penetrated into 
the valley of the Orontes, and is leisurely advancing 
towards Kadesb. As to the Khita, they have only 
parties of light troops on the plains, holding the main 
body of their forces concealed in the recesses of Lebanon 
to the north-west of the city. Baoukou, after hesi- 
tating a moment, decides to push on beyond Sidon, 
then to cross the mountain towards the point where 
the enemies are hidden, so that he may carry to 
Pharaoh precise information upon the positions which 
they occupy. There is no beaten route between Sidon 
and the valley of the Orontes, but travellers follow the 
faint tracks known to the goatherds and Bedouins 
only. The cyprus commences half-way up, mingled 
with firs and large centenarian cedars, which seem to 
ascend to heaven, their thick foliage almost impene- 
trable to the light. Not even between Joppa and 
Megiddo has Baoukou ever found himself in such 
gloomy masses of forest, so stifling, so dumb. The 
silence and isolation overwhelm him, as they are re- 
ported to overwhelm the souls in the voyage beyond 
the tomb in search of the paradise of Osiris ; a religious 
horror of the great woods seizes him. Once more his 
chariot breaks down half-way up the hill, and the 
horses drag it laboriously ; sometimes a lion roars in 
the distance, or the yelping laugh of a hyena is heard 
in the thicket. 

Towards evening he reaches the summit of the 
mountain, and, tired out, he falls asleep, without eat- 
ing, without even lighting a camp fire ; when awak- 
ened by the cold of the morning, he is alone, no one is 
near him. The guide had tried to steal his horses, but 
they snorted at the touch of a strange hand, so he was 
forced to relinquish his intention ; the thief has fallen 
back upon the luggage, and has carried off one por- 
tion of it. However, the servant, roused by the noise, 
caught sight of him and took care not to warn his 
master ; the robber once gone, he laid hands upon the 


remainder of the goods and decamped in his turn. 
Baoukou is, therefore, alone upon the mountain, in the 
midst of a thick fog, which prevents him seeing twenty 
steps before him. One false movement will throw him 
off the road, into some ravine, where he may perhaps 
break both arms and legs ; the best thing is to wait for 
the dawn. Soon the mist rises, the peaks slowly emerge 
above it, followed by the wooded slopes, and the vapours 
gradually retire to the valley, from whence the sun's 
rays quickly dislodge them. Baoukou sees at his feet 
the whole plain of Syria unrolled before him, like a chess- 
board, with its fields, its clumps of trees, its scattered 
villages, its rivers, their winding course traced out by 
double rows of trees, the Egyptian camp, and, beyond, 
the small lake of Kadesh shining in the sun. The 
path improves as he descends the hill and drives 
quickly towards the valley. Baoukou now abandons 
the fragments of his chariot, takes the two horses by 
the reins, and starts again, glad to have escaped so 
easily. Once at the foot of the mountain, he intends 
to mount one of the animals and lead the other as a 
second horse, while a gallop of two hours will take him 
to the Egyptian camp.* 

But at a turn in the road a confused noise, as of a 
great multitude, suddenly strikes his ear. He cau- 
tiously advances, puts aside the branches of a bush and 
perceives below him, in a large valley, columns of 
men and horses arranged in good order and ready to 
start at the first signal. This is the army of the Prince 
of Khita, which its chief has concealed until now and 
which he had assembled in this spot on the previous 
day. As Baoukou watches, a movement commences 
and spreads through the mass. The aides-de-camp 
hurry to and fro, carrying orders, the soldiers cast a 
last glance over the harness of their horses, the wheels 
and poles, then mount their chariots and seize the 

* The journey here ascribed to Baoukou is the journey described 
in some pages of the t'apyrus Anastasi, No. 1, reversed. 


reins. A shout of command is heard, then the crack- 
ing of many whips, and the chariots roll away, division 
after division. The Khita are at the head of the 
column ; their chariots, heavier and larger than those of 
the Egyptians, each contain three men — a warrior, a 
coachman, and a shield-bearer, who protects his two 
comrades. They wear long striped robes of red and blue, 
red and white, or blue and white, and are armed with the 
bow, lance, and dagger. Their auxiliaries, the Darde- 
nians and Mysians follow them, and the remainder of 
the contingents from Asia Minor and Syria close the 
rear. There are two thousand five hundred chariots, 
divided into four bands of almost equal force. Baou- 
kou follows them with his eyes, and notices that, in- 
stead of hastening across the plain, they advance 
slowly, concealing themselves behind the trees and 
taking advantage of the least irregularity of the 
ground to hide their approach. A surprise is being 
prepared, and will perhaps entail disaster for the 
Egyptian army if Pharaoh be not warned in time. 
Baoukou hastens his steps, reaches the foot of the 
mountain, and gallops straight to the camp. At last 
the enemy catches sight of him as he reaches the open 
country : three or four chariots leave the first division, 
but, seeing that they cannot, overtake him, return to 
the ranks, after shooting some arrows at him, which 
fall far short of their mark. 



The Egyptian camp before Kadesh — Incidents of camp life — The 
Khita spies — Departure: the order of the march — The Egyptian 
camp surprised by the Khita — Rameses charges the enemy — 
Speech of Kameses to his generals — The battle of Kadesh — 
After the victory — Khitasir sues for peace — Treaty between 
Rameses and the Khita. 

The Egyptian camp has been established for some days 
upon the right bank of the Orontes, at some distance to 
the south of Kadesh. It is a rectangular enclosure, twice 
as long as it is wide (Tig. 99). The earth from the moat, 
thrown inwards and heaped together, forms a rampart 
of almost the same height as a man ; large wicker- 
work shields, square at the base, rounded at the top, 
are placed on the outer side of this rudimentary wall 
and serve as a facing. A single door opens in one of 
the walls, and^a plank serves as a bridge for entrance 
and exit. Two squads of infantry posted inside, half 
at each side of the gate, keep guard night and day, 
stick and bare sword in hand (Fig. 100). The inside 
area is divided lengthways into three compartments, 
traced out by light walls. The centre division belongs 
to the king, and contains his pavilion ; in it Pharaoh 
finds all the comfort and luxury of his Egyptian 
palaces — a bedroom, an audience-hall, a dining-room, 
and even a chapel, where he offers water and incense 
every morning to his father, Amen-ra, lord of Thebes. 
The princes who accompany him, his equerries and 







Fig. 100. 

-The Guard at the 

generals, are lodged near him ; behind, in long lines, 
stand the horses and war-chariots, the luggage-cars, and 
the oxen that drag them. Before the oxen, a waggon 
covered with an awning serves to convey the strangest 

auxiliary that man ever 
dreamed of taking upon a 
field of battle. Rameses is 
always accompanied by an 
enormous lion, tamed and 
trained to attack the enemy. 
Usually the animal is fairly 
gentle, and displays all the 
friendliness of a large dog ; 
but it becomes excited in 
battle, and returns to its 
natural ferocity. The two 
compartments to the right 
and left are abandoned to the soldiers. They contain 
neither tents nor temporary huts. The Egyptians are 
accustomed to live in the open air ; they cook, eat, 
sleep, attend to all their business in public. Here one 
of them watches a saucepan whilst cleaning his 
weapons ; another is drinking from a skin of wine that 
a slave assists him to hold ; a third has dismounted his 
chariot and is replacing a worn piece of it ; others 
sharpen their daggers or lances — exchange blows with 
fist or stick. The chariots are placed in the front of 
each squad, the luggage is piled upon the ground- 
linen, weapons, provisions. The war-horses and lug- 
gage-asses eat and rest at their ease ; here and there a 
jovial donkey rolls upon the ground, braying with 
pleasure (Fig. 101). 

The officers who return from the outside bring 
news to those who have not left the camp. Nothing 
yet : the vile Khita persist in remaining invisible, and 
all the Asiatics whom they question either know 
nothing or will know nothing. A few young men are 
inclined to consider the action of the enemy a proof of 










impotence and cowardice : Khitasir is hiding because 
he is afraid. The veterans shake their heads as they 
listen to these remarks ; like Pharaoh, they think that 
the battle is near, and the less the enemy shows him- 
self the more they distrust him. The vile Khita has 
good generals, a well- disciplined army, allies full of 
energy ; if he does not move it is because he is preparing 
some surprise. If the eye could penetrate the ravines 
and woody mountains that surround the plain, perhaps 
the army so vainly sought for two months might be 
discovered. The storm usually gathers on the heights; 
woe to us on the day that it bursts over the plain. 
Meanwhile Pharaoh would do well to redouble his 
vigilance. A surprise is sudden in warfare, and a 
defeat under the walls of Kadesh would take the army 
back to Gaza more quickly than it had come. 

Rameses is not less preoccupied than his old captains. 
All the reports that he received from the scouts agree 
that there is no inimical army for twenty leagues 
round, but how can they believe that Khitasir would con- 
sent to abandon the richest provinces of his kingdom to 
the Egyptians without striking a blow in their defence ? 
The Bedouins that come before him assert that the 
Khita are still forty leagues away, near to Khilibu: 
their army is assembling but slowly, and perhaps it 
would be wise to attack them before it is completely 
organized. Afiter a long hesitation, it is finally decided 
to act upon this information. Rameses summons his 
generals, describes his plan of campaign, and issues 
orders for a general departure at daybreak. He leaves 
Kadesh behind him and proposes going in search of 
the allies in the heart of their own country. The 
legion of Phra will form the left, and will cross the 
valley to the south of Shabtouna ; the legion of Ptah 
will advance in the centre towards the village of 
Arnam ; the legion of Sutekh will take up its position 
to the right and will follow the high road. The legion 
of Amen will remain in camp and only go out on the 


morrow with the king. Every preparation is made 
during the night, and at the first hour of dawn the 
three columns commence their march, each in the 
direction already indicated. 

The enemy's scouts, who are watching the Egyptians 
from the top of the hills, signal their departure. 
Khitasir at once places his troops under arms, and 
prepares for any emergency. Does Rameses suspect 
the snare laid for him, and is this a manoeuvre to draw 
the enemy into the plain? Is he really raising his 
camp and going towards Khilibu, deceived by the false 
reports sent to him through the Bedouins ? Gradually 
the movement increases, the Egyptian columns dis- 
appear and are lost in the clouds of dust raised by the 
wheels of their chariots and the feet of their horses. 
Khitasir has recognised the standards and knows that 
two-thirds of the Egyptian army are already beyond 
Kadesh. Rameses is left with but a single legion and 
his household guard. It is true that they are the best 
soldiers of Egypt, but for how many hours could they 
sustain the shock of 2500 Asiatic chariots ? There 
would be time to force the camp, whilst the divisions 
so imprudently launched towards the north would be 
still marching forward. The legion of Amen would be 
crushed, Pharaoh killed or taken prisoner before they 
could return, and they could be easily defeated in their 
turn, when once deprived of their leader. The morning 
advances, the sun is already high in the horizon, the 
Egyptian camp has returned to its usual state, and no 
one seems to suspect that anything is likely to happen. 
Khitasir gives the signal so long expected, and his 
army descends into the plain at a gallop. 

Rameses, having witnessed the departure of his 
troops, re-enters his tent, and seats himself upon his 
golden throne. He is talking to his two eldest sons, 
when some of his scouts arrive, bringing with them 
two of the Khita spies, whom they lead before the King. 
His Majesty inquires, ' What nation do you belong 



Fig. 102. — The Spies are bepten. 

to?' At first they refuse to answer, but a severe 
beating forces them to speak (Fig. 102). They own 

that they belong to the 
King of Khita, and have 
been sent to see where 
His Majesty is esta- 
blished. Raraeses then 
asks, ' Where is the 
miserable Khita ? for I 
have been told that he is 
near Khilibu/ The spies 
answer, ' Behold, the King of Khita, he and the 
nations he has brought with him in great numbers, all 
the peoples that dwell in the land of Khita, from the 
Avhole of Naharanna and Sidi.* Now he is powerful 
with many soldiers, with chariot soldiers with their 
harness, as many as the sand of the seashore, and they 
are ready to fight behind Kadesh.' This revela- 
tion fills the king with rage and anxiety. Is there 
yet time to recall the three legions, or must he abandon 
the camp and try to rejoin them before the enemy 

Pharaoh immediately summons the captain of the 
legion of Amen, the captain of the Shairetana, and the 
leaders of his chariot soldiers, to tell them the news 
that the stick has just wrested from the two spies 
of the Khita (Pig. 103). 'See what the chiefs of the 
scouts and the vassal princes of the lands of Pharaoh 
have done. They have said daily unto me, " The King 
of Khita is at Khilibu ; he has fled before Pharaoh." 
They have asserted this as a certainty, and behold I 
have now learnt from the two spies that the King of 
Khita has come up with much people, with men and 
horses as many as the sand, and that he is behind 
Kadesh. Yet the scouts of the vassal princes of the 
land knew nothing of this.' The generals are quite 

* Naharanna is the country between Orontes and Balikh ; Sidi, 
the coast of Cilicia, the Ketis of the Greek geographers. 



as much disturbed as the king had been. ' The fault 
is great that the governors of the land and the vassal 
princes of Pharaoh have committed in neglecting to 
watch the movements of the Knita.' But there is 
no time for recriminations, the king must act quickly. 
He decides to send orders to the legions to return 
by forced marches, and the Council was about to 
separate, so that the camp might be prepared for de- 
fence, when Baoukou entered 
the tent and announced the 

Fig. 103.— Rameses holds a Council of War. 

coming of the enemy. Khitasir arrived almost imme- 
diately with his whole army : in a few minutes the 
moat was filled up, the earthwork thrown down in 
spite of the shields which covered it, and the Asiatics 
swarmed into the camp through the breach. The 
surprise was complete : a number of foot soldiers 
were killed before they could seize their weapons ; 
a few squadrons rallied, and, supported by the 
Shairetana, for a short time succeeded in checking 
the enemy at the gates of the royal quarters. 
They were borne down by numbers, and were already 
breaking their ranks, when a war-cry was suddenly 
heard throughout the camp, blended with a loud roar 



— Rameses II. and his lion at last appeared on the 
field of battle. 

Pharaoh, when he first saw the Khita chariots, was 
beside himself with rage, like his father Menthu of 
Thebes. He put on his armour, seized his lance, 
ordered his lion to be loosened ; then, entering his 
chariot, he rushed into the thickest part of the con- 
flict (Fig. 104). The few chariots that followed him 

Tig. 104. — Kam°ses II. in his Chariot: thp King's Lion charges 
by the side ot the Hoise^. 

were quickly overthrown, their warriors killed or taken 
prisoners, and Pharaoh found himself alone with his 
equerry, Menni, separated from those of his troops 
that still resisted by a number of the enemy's chariots. 
When Menni saw himself surrounded his courage failed, 
a great terror seized him, and he said to Pharaoh : 
'My lord, generous king! Egypt's great protector 
in the day of battle ! behold, we are alone in the midst 
of the enemy, for the archers and chariots have left 
us. Let us return, that our lives may be saved. Save 
us, O my lord, Rameses Miamun ! ' But Pharaoh 


answered : ' Take courage, strengthen thine heart, O 
mine equerry ! I will go amongst them like the hawk 
pounces upon his prey ; killing and massacring, I will 
lay them in the dust! What, therefore, are these 
wretches in thine eyes ? Amen has delivered them 
into mine hand/ And raising his voice towards the 
god, he continued : * I invoke thee, my father 
Amen ! behold me in the midst of a numerous and 
strange people ; all the nations are united against me, 
and I am alone ; no other is with me. My soldiers 
have abandoned me, not one of our horsemen have 
looked towards me, and when I called to them not one 
of them hearkened unto my voice. But I believe that 
Amen is stronger on my side than a million soldiers, 
than a hundred thousand horsemen, than a myriad of 
brothers or of young sons, were they all assembled 
here. The work of many men is as nothing ; Amen 
will outweigh them all. I have done all things ac- 
cording to thy counsels, O Amen ! and I have not 
disobeyed thy words. Behold, I render glory unto 
thee, even to the extremities of the earth ! ' He 
charged, and ' his hand devoured them in the space 
of an instant/ and they said one to the other, ' This 
is not a man in the midst of us, it is Sutekh, the great 
warrior; it is Baal himself. These are not the deeds 
of a man ; alone, quite alone, he repulses hundreds of 
thousands, without captains or soldiers. Let us make 
haste and flee before him ; let us save our lives that 
we may yet breathe upon earth/ Five times Pharaoh 
rushed upon them, and five times the scarcely broken 
ranks closed round him; at the sixth attack he suc- 
ceeded in breaking the circle which surrounded him 
and in rejoining his army. Pharaoh does not usually 
engage in the battles which are fought in his presence. 
He watches rather than fights, and his generals never 
allow him to be in any serious danger. On this occa- 
sion Rameses II. fought without any precautions, like 
a private soldier. He encouraged his men by voice 



and gesture, himself led them to the attack, and covered 
their retreat when they were outnumbered. He loudly 
invoked Amen before each fresh charge, and it seemed 
as though Amen covered him with an invisible shield. 
Whilst all his faithful servants fell, one after the other, 
his chariot was intact, and he remained unwounded. 
The unequal combat lasted for some hours, and the 

Fig. 105. — The Legion of Ptah entering the Field. 

Egyptians, decimated, dying of thirst and fatigue, now 
only thought' of selling their lives as dearly as possible. 
Suddenly a loud tumult was heard at the rear of the 
enemy; the legion of Ptah was entering the field (Fig. 
105). The officer dispatched in search of it had found 
it a little to the north-east of Kadesh ; it hastened 
forward in good order, the chariots in front and in the 


rear, the foot soldiers in a deep column. The Khita 
and their allies, already discouraged by their struggle 
with the king's household, did not wait for the attack. 
They turned round, and retired in confusion towards 
Kadesh. A vigorous charge would doubtless have 
changed their retreat into a rout, but the Egyptian 
troops, having marched or fought all through the day, 
were quite exhausted, and retired to their camp. The 
legion of Sutekh arrived soon afterwards ; that of Phra 
only joined them later in the evening. It had been 
surprised by a sudden attack from the Asiatic chariots, 
and had been partly overthrown. But the soldiers 
who composed it were mostly veterans from the Syrian 
wars, so that they quickly recovered from their dismay, 
and remained masters of the field after several hours 
of bloody conflict. Khitasir's plan, well arranged and 
well led though it had been, had failed before the 
indomitable valour of Barneses and the steadiness of 
his troops. 

Pharaoh alights from his chariot, and his first 
thought is for the horses who have so gallantly carried 
him through the battle, Victory -in- Thebes and Maui- in- 
satisfied. Neither the horses nor the lion are wounded, 
but their caparison is sullied with blood and dust, the 
feathers that decorate their heads are in shreds, and their 
collars are half broken. Barneses caresses them, speaks 
to them, and promises them a place of honour in his 
stables, unlimited rations of forage, and superb deco- 
rations for the remainder of their lives. The faithful 
animals appear to understand him, and raise their 
heads at his voice, in spite of their fatigue. He then 
gives orders that all the chiefs of the army should be 
summoned. They hurry to his presence and greet him 
as usual as they approach him : ' Thou, O great 
warrior ! hast saved thine army. Son of the god Atmu 
and the work of his hands, thou hast destroyed the people 
of Khita with thy powerful scimitar ! Thou art the 
perfect warrior, and there is no king that fights like 


thee for his soldiers in the day of battle ! Thou art 
the bravest of heroes, thou art foremost in the conflict, 
and dost not even inquire if the whole world be united 
against thee ! Thou art the bravest of the brave before 
thine army and before the whole world ! No one can 
deny it. Thou art the protector of Egypt and the 
chastisement of the nations ! Thou hast broken the 
power of the Khita for ever ! ' 

In spite of their flattery the generals are not quite 
sure that Pharaoh will not make them pay dearly for 
the negligence which so nearly cost him his life, and 
his first words are not calculated to disperse their fear. 
' What a crime you have committed, oh, my generals, 
my foot soldiers, my chariot soldiers, in not joining in 
the fight ! Is not a man honoured by his country 
when he has displayed his courage by the side of his 
lord, and won the fame of a warrior ? Verily, verily, 
a man is valued for his bravery.' 

He recalls the benefits he has showered upon them, 
which deserved some gratitude. ' Have I not shown 
kindness to you all, that you should leave me alone 
in the midst of the enemy ? You were afraid and you 
are still alive ; you still breathe, and I, through your 
fault, am left alone. Could you not say in your hearts 
that I am your rampart of iron? What will my father, 
Amen-ra of Thebes, say when he knows that you left 
me alone, unaided ? That not one prince, not one 
officer of the chariots or the armies was ready to help 
me?' However, the recollection of their former ex- 
ploits softens Pharaoh's anger, and secretly he is not 
annoyed at having had this opportunity of giving 
brilliant proof of his strength and valour. He consents 
to forget their crime, and to recall the names of those 
only who had come to his assistance in the hour of 
danger. ' I have fought, I have repulsed millions of 
nations with mine own hand. Force-in- Thebes and 
Maut-is- satisfied were my great horses, they were under 
my hand when I was alone in the midst of the 


trembling enemy. Henceforth their food shall be 
given them before me, each day, when I am in my 
palace ; for I found them when I was in the midst of 
the enemy, with the chief, Menni, mine equerry, and 
with the officers of my household who accompany me, 
and who are my witnesses in the fight: they are all 
that I found. I have returned victorious from the 
battle, and with my sword have I smitten the assembled 

It was a success, but dearly bought : the camp sur- 
prised and partly pillaged, one-half of the legion of 
Amen and of the foreign guard destroyed or dispersed. 
The enemy repulsed, but only repulsed with great 
difficulty, and ready to recommence the attack. Rameses 
makes his arrangements for the morrow. The legions 
of Phra, Ptah, and Sutekh will be placed in the same 
order as they started for the march that morning, to 
the left, the centre, and the right ; the remnant of the 
legion of Amen and of the Shairetana will form the 
reserve. Khitasir, on his side, calls up the regiments 
that had not been present in the action, and draws 
them up in front of Kadesh (Fig. 106). The city 
originally occupied a curve which the river formed as 
it issued from a small lake : the running water pro- 
tected it upon three sides ; the east only was left un- 
covered by this natural moat, and remained exposed to 
a direct attack. One of 
the old kings, wishing 
to render the city invul- 
nerable, pierced the strip 
of land that joined it to 
the plain by a double 
canal dug from the lake Fig . 106.— The City of Kadesh. 
to the stream. The en- 
closure now forms an almost perfect circle. The wall, 
built of large stones, is garnished with towers ; those 
which defend the door are higher than the others, and 
are more solidly constructed. Kadesh thus forms an 


island linked to the mainland by two bridges, which, 
thrown over the two moats, can be raised or lowered at 
will. Khitasir has still four thousand chariots, which 
he marshals at some little distance in front of the city, 
those to the right protected by the stream, those to the 
left extending over the plain ; he leaves his infantry in 
the city with orders to remain there, unless he is defeated, 
when they must stop the pursuit by the Egyptians. 

The battle commences early in the morning by a 
skirmish between the archers, but they have scarcely 
had time to exchange a few arrows when Rameses and 
Khitasir order them to scatter and to make way for 
the cavalry. If we could trust appearances, the forces 
appear unequal. The chariots of the Khita — high, 
heavy, containing three men each — should easily bear 
down the light Egyptian chariots and upset them by 
their weight alone. The two masses first started, then, 
quickening their speed, rushed upon each other at full 
gallop, with a heavy, rolling sound, like thunder. The 
Egyptians, trained by frequent drill to move together, 
advance with as much regularity as though they were 
still on parade in Thebes. No one chariot is in front 
of the others, and their galloping steeds form but one 
unbroken line upon the ground. The warrior has tied 
the reins together, and has passed them round his 
waist ; then leaning upon them to right or left, loosen- 
ing the pressure by bending forward or tightening it 
by a backward step, he turns, quickens, or stops his 
horse by a simple movement of the body. His bow is 
strung to its utmost extent, the arrow pointed ready 
for flight, whilst the coachman, holding to the chariot 
with one hand, with the other protects his comrade 
with the shield (Fig. 107). The Khita are less skilful, 
and do not keep their distances so well after the first 
few minutes' galloping ; the line wavers and curves as 
they advance in spite of their efforts to keep it straight. 
Although they have bows like their adversaries, they 
do not use them ; the majority prefer using the lance, 



and already hold it half-couched, ready to strike as 
soon as they close with the enemy. 

Already the two lines are within two horse-lengths 
of each other ; a short order, and all the Egyptian 

Fig. 107. — Collision of the Chariots. The Egyptians are to the 
left, the Khita to the right. 

arrows fly through the air with a loud whistle. 
Twenty of the Khita and Dardanians fall, as many 
horses are thrown down ; the disabled chariots fall 
back upon their neighbours and upset. A second dis- 
charge brings the disorder to its height ; the first line 


of the allies is broken, the injured chariots are dis- 
persed. The warriors thrown out of the broken 
chariots seize a horse, cut the traces that attach it to 
the pole, mount it with a spring, and hurry off. 
Khitasir launches a second division, which renews the 
fight, and at last, closing with the Egyptians, inflicts 
heavy losses upon them and penetrates their centre, 
driving the remnant of the force before them. At 
this moment Rameses places himself at the head of 
his right wing and rushes upon the Khita, who, taken 
in the rear by the king, are gradually pressed back 
into the river, into which many of them fall. The 
conflict rages , around them. Khitasir sees his most 
devoted servants fall one after the other : Tarakennas, 
leader of his cavalry ; Agama, captain of the infantry ; 
his historiographer, Khirapusar ; Zaouazas, prince of 
Tonisa ; his own brother, Matsurama. Pressed from 
all sides, the king urges his chariot towards the 
water, so that he may cross the lake and take refuge 
beneath the walls of Kadesh. A great many of his 
soldiers who follow his example are drawn into the 
current and drowned, whilst he himself is landed half 
dead at the foot of the ramparts. Some of the in- 
habitants pick him up, and hold him upside down to 
make him disgorge the water he has swallowed. 
However, his infantry now issue from the town and 
fall upon the (Egyptians in a solid mass of eight 
thousand men. This intervention, which comes too 
late to change the fate of the day, arrests the progress 
of the conquerors and saves the remnant of the cavalry. 
The struggle of yesterday had only arrested Khitasir's 
march ; the battle of to-day has disorganized and almost 
destroyed his army. 

The king realises that the war cannot be continued, 
and the same evening his envoys present themselves 
before Rameses and implore his mercy. The Egyptian 
camp is full of joy. Since the cessation of the strife 
the soldiers have scattered all over the plain, spoiling 



the dead and collecting booty. The Egyptian does not 
usually decapitate his enemy ; he cuts off the right 
hand or some limb, and carries it to the scribes, who 
inscribe it against his name. Pharaoh himself deigns 
to preside in his chariot over the registration of the 
hands (Fig. 108). The Khita messengers find him 
surrounded by the bloody trophies. He interrupts his 
work to receive them. If he followed his secret in- 
clinations he would prolong the war and try to put an 
end to the resistance of the obstinate Khita for ever ; 
but he is not sure that his army is still sufficiently 
large, after the losses it has borne, to be able to hold 
the field for long. The remnant of the Khita is still 
formidable ; Kadesh is strong and will not yield 

Fig. 108. — Registering the Hands cut from the Prisoners. 

without a long siege. During this time Khitasir is 
capable of assembling a new army, Southern Syria 
may revolt, and a check, even if insignificant in itself, 
will compromise the results of the success already 
gained. Rameses, therefore, resigns himself to accept 
the enemy's overtures and to receive the letter pre- 
sented by the messengers. It is from Khitasir himself 
and couched in the most humble terms. ' This is to 
satisfy the heart of Pharaoh, of the god who volun- 
tarily diffuses his vivifying influence, of the lord, the 
valorous bull, who loves the truth, of the supreme king, 
who protects his soldiers, of the hero with the in- 
vincible sword, the bulwark of his soldiers in the day 
of battle, of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, 
Rauserma-sotepenra, son of the Sun, Rameses Miamun. 
Thy servant Khitasir speaks to thee, to lay before thee 


that, being thyself the sou of Amen, formed of his sub- 
stance, as he has delivered all lauds unto thee, the land 
of Egypt and the land of the Khita unite to lay their 
services at thy feet. Ra, thine august father, has 
given strength and victory unto thee ; deign to spare 
us, thou whose souls are great ! Thy valour has 
weighed heavily upon the nation of the Khita, but is 
it good for thee to kill thy servants ? Thou art their 
master ; will thy face be always angry towards us, wilt 
thou not calm thyself ? Yesterday thou hast appeared 
and thou has killed hundreds of thousands ; if thou 
appear to-day, no one will be left to be subject unto 
thee. Abandon thy designs, oh, victorious king, the 
genius that delights in battles. Grant to us the 
breath of life ! ' Rameses summons his council, and 
communicates to it the message received from the king 
of the Khita ; his generals deliberate as a matter of 
form, and convinced, like himself, of the necessity of 
peace, they advise him to be magnanimous. ' Behold, 
now, this is excellent ! Deign to be calmed, O sove- 
reign, our master ! If mercy be not extended to 
Khitasir, to whom should it be granted ? He adores 
thee ; consent then to calm thy wrath/ On the 
morrow the prayer was granted, and Rameses tri- 
umphantly commenced his journey back to Egypt. 
It was less a peace than a truce ; the war soon re- 
commenced, and continued with variable success for 
sixteen years longer. However, as Rameses grew 
older he no longer accompanied the army in person ; 
whilst his generals fought for him, he built temples, 
founded new towns, and reconstructed the majority of 
the ancient cities. After laborious negotiations peace was 
at last concluded, and a day was fixed for the exchange 
of the silver tablets, upon which solemn treaties were 
usually inscribed. The ceremony took place upon the 
21st Tobi at Pa - Rameses Miamun in the Delta. 
Tartisabou, the messenger of the Prince of Khita, 
solemnly presented to Pharaoh the tablet which his 


master had entrusted to him, and received one bearing 
the hieroglyphic text of the treaty. This text recalled 
the past agreements between the kings of Egypt and 
the princes of Khita in the time of Pameses I. and 
Seti I. It contained a stipulation that peace should 
be eternal between the two peoples. i If any enemy 
march against the countries that are subject to the 
great King of Egypt, and he send to the great Prince 
of Khita, saying, "Come, lead thy forces against them," 
the Prince of Khita will obey the words of the King of 
Egypt, and will destroy his enemies ; but if the Prince 
of Khita prefer not to obey in person he will send archers 
and chariots from the land of Khita to the King of Egypt 
to destroy his enemies/ A similar clause secures the 
Egyptian support for the Prince of Khita in time of 
need. The following articles are destined to protect 
the commerce and industry of the allied nations, and 
to render the action of justice secure amongst them. 
Every criminal that should attempt to evade the laws 
by taking refuge in the neighbouring country should 
be given up to the officials of his people ; every fugi- 
tive who was not a criminal, every subject carried 
away by force, every workman who should move from 
one territory to another to dwell there should be sent 
back to his people, but this expatriation should not be 
regarded as a crime. i The man who is thus sent away 
shall not be considered guilty of a fault: his house 
shall not be destroyed, nor his wife, nor his children ; 
his mother shall not be killed ; he shall not be smitten 
in the eyes, nor in the mouth, nor in the feet ; nor 
shall any criminal accusation be brought against him/ 
The articles of the treaty were loyally observed on 
both sides. Pameses married Khitasir's daughter, and 
the latter came some years later to pay a friendly visit 
to his son-in-law. Henceforth, ' the peoples of Egypt 
were of one mind with the princes of Khita, which had 
not been the case since the god Pa/ 

Pameses lived for many years longer. He died 



in the sixty - seventh year of his reign, sixty - two 
years after the battle of Kadesh, which he had won 
by his personal courage. His funeral was magnifi- 

Fig. 109. — Barneses IT., from a photograph of the Corpse 
preserved in the Boulak Museum. 

cent, and his mummy reposed in the tomb which he 
had prepared during his lifetime in the Valley of the 
Kings. It could not rest long in peace. As a pre- 
caution against robbers, it was transported to the tomb 


of Amenophis I., where it remained for nearly two 
centuries with the great Pharaohs of the preceding 
dynasties, Amasis I., Thothmes I., his grandfather, 
Rameses I., his father, Seti I., and the princesses of 
their family. Thebes declined in power, a king of the 
twenty-second dynasty wished to be quit of the accu- 
mulated dead, and buried them pell-mell in a corner of 
the mountain, so carefully hidden that they remained 
there for twenty-eight centuries. Towards 1871, some 
fellahs in quest of antiquities discovered this group of 
Pharaohs, which they regularly exploited for ten years, 
selling a scaraboeus here, a papyrus there, some pieces 
of stuff, some jewels, funeral statuettes, all the property 
of former kings. Everything that escaped pillage was 
in 1881 transported to the Boulak Museum, and 
Rameses, freed from his bandages, saw the light of 
day once more after an interval of more than three 
thousand years. Now he sleeps his last sleep in a hall 
in the museum under a glass case. He is no longer in 
our eyes as in those of our forefathers, the hero of a 
doubtful legend, or still less, a name detached from a 
form, floating in the imagination of the learned, with- 
out colour or outline. He is tall and well formed. 
His head is long and small, the skull bare ; a few 
tresses of white hair still cling round the temples and 
the nape of the neck. The forehead is low and narrow, 
the eyebrow well formed, the eye small and close to 
the nose, the cheek-bone prominent, the ear round and 
delicately curved. In his venerable immobility he still 
retains an expression of pride, of sovereign majesty. 
His head has been measured, the capacity of his brain 
has been gauged, an inventory has been taken of his 
funeral wardrobe, and if any one wishes to see him as he 
appeared at the time of his death, here is his portrait 
(Fig. 109), taken from a photograph. 





Sargon wishes to found a city — Choice of a site — The gods consulted 
— Laying the foundation — Brickrnaking — Death of Sargon — Dur- 
Sarginu abandoned by the kings — The outer wall — The gates: 
the winged bulls — Their office at the gates of the city — The streets, 
the houses, the population — The palace and its storehouses — The 
harem — The royal apartment and its decoration — The priests and 
their position in the State — The Tower of the Seven Planets. 

In the twelfth year of his reign, upon a favourable 
day, Sargon, the great king, the powerful king, king 
of multitudes, king of Assyria, founded a city and a 
palace, according to the will of the gods and the desire 
of his heart. In the royal cities, where hitherto the 
king had dwelt, everything too vividly recalled the 
glory of the sovereigns who had preceded him. The 
inscriptions related in detail the history of their lives, 
the bas-reliefs depicted their hunting exploits and 
their battles. Tiglath-pileser built the centre of the 
palace, one of the Shamshi-Rammanu added the two 
wings, Assur-nasir-pal raised the many-storied tower, 
and Shalmaneser restored the buildings of the harem. 
Sargon wished for a city which should belong to him 
only ; where the past should commence with his reign. 
After meditating night and day, and carefully 
seeking the spot most suitable for his project, he de- 


cided upon the village of Magganoubba, at some dis- 
tance to the north-east of Nineveh, situated in a large 
plain which extends from the banks of the Khosr to 
the mountains of Mousri. Every year the land pro- 
duces two harvests, so that it is called the Plain of 
the Double Springtime. One of the streams that water 
~it contains sulphur and has remarkable properties ; 
for, though in other parts of the valley of the Tigris 
the natives and even foreigners are tormented by an 
eruption of large painful spots, which last for a year 
and then leave an indelible scar, those persons who 
drink of its waters either escape the disease or are 
rapidly cured. The site has, therefore, great natural 
advantages, and yet the three hundred and fifty princes 
who have suceedeed each other upon the Assyrian 
throne have lived near it for centuries without think- 
ing of profiting by them. Sargon, better advised, 
determined to dwell there, and at once dispossessed all 
the inhabitants of the village. Some received in silver 
and copper the sum that they had paid for their fields, 
according to their title-deeds ; others, who preferred 
land to metal, received in exchange f r their patrimony 
a territory of the same value. It was necessary to con- 
duct this preliminary operation with great care and 
justice, so that there should be no cause for justifiable 
complaint : if but one of the former owners of the soil 
had been unjustly treated, his maledictions would have 
brought ill luck to the new city. 

The foundation of a city is a religious act, and each 
detail in the arrangements is marked by long and 
complicated rites. It does not suffice to trace out an 
enclosure, to plan streets, to open markets, to assemble 
haphazard several thousands of families : if the founder 
wishes that his work should last and prosper, he must 
draw within its walls not only a human population, 
but a divine one, too ; he must invoke a number of 
gods, who will not leave the town and will undertake 
to protect the inhabitants. Sargon, before commencing 


his enterprise, devoutly consulted Hea, the king of the 
gods, and his sister Damkou. He went to the temple 
of Ishtar, queen of Nineveh, and in the sanctuary itself 
he implored the goddess to bless his scheme. His re- 
quest found favour in her eyes. She ordered him to 
commence the works, and relying upon the promises of 
the divinity, who never deceives her votaries, he im- 
mediately assembled his labourers and collected mate- 
rials of all kinds. The city, erected upon a regular 
plan, was to form an almost perfect square, of about 
seven hundred acres. The angles exactly corresponded 
with the four points of heaven ; the sides were traced 
on the soil by means of a banquette twenty-five yards 
wide, built of slabs of calcareous stone hewn from 
the neighbouring mountains. To sanctify this struc- 
ture and to avert evil influences, figurines in baked 
clay, representing the great gods of the country, 
cylinders covered with inscriptions, and amulets ot 
various form, were placed in different parts of it, par- 
ticularly in the openings reserved for the gateways. 
But the Assyrian architects, servile pupils of the old 
masters of Chaldea, never willingly use stone ; as soon 
as the wall was a little more than three feet high they 
continued the work in bricks up to the top. 

The bricks destined for public buildings are holy, 
and can be made only at certain seasons. They are 
prepared under the auspices of a particular god, Sivan, 
lord of foundations, and only during the month to 
which he gave his name. The king, therefore, came 
during the first days of Sivan (May, June), and en- 
camped with a large suite in the plain of Magganoubba, 
An altar had been erected ; he lit the fire, poured a 
libation into the consecrated brass vase, killed a bull, 
and with uplifted hands he prayed that Sivan and his 
father, Bel, the architect of the universe, would con- 
sent to direct the works (Fig. 110). The clay was 
then taken, freed from the stones which it contained, 
mixed with chopped straw and water, kneaded by the 



feet, moulded, and dried in the sun. The brick is 
nearly a square of about thirteen inches, sometimes 
two, sometimes four inches thick ; it is stamped on one 
side with the name and titles of the king who manu- 
factured it. Two months later, in Ab, the building 
commenced ; it lasted six years, and was not finished 
until Sargon returned from his Armenian campaign. 
The king did not long enjoy the pleasure of being at 
home in a city which bore his name, and in which 
every detail reminded him of his own greatness. Soon 
after the inauguration of the city he was assassinated 
at the instigation, and perhaps by the hand, of his son, 
Sennacherib. Dur-Sarginu,* raised by a whim of its 

E3 ^ 


Fig. 110.— The Royal Sacrifice. 

founder to the dignity of a capital, is now only one of 
the numerous residences of the King of Assyria. It 
might usually be taken for a dead or, at all events, 
a sleeping city, with deserted streets, almost empty 
markets, a small and indolent population. Once or twice 
a year it awakens : its palaces are opened, its thorough- 
fares become animated, the tumult of life fills it once 
more. Assurbanipal, tired of the noise of Nineveh, has 
arrived with his harem and his whole court. 

The road which leads to Dur-Sarginu crosses the 
Khosr when it leaves Nineveh, and follows the left 
bank of the river pretty closely. It is a good stone 
road, like all in Assyria, about twelve yards wide, 
bordered at regular intervals with stone posts, which 

* Sarginu is the correct rendering of the name of Sargon ; but, 
except in the name of the city, I have retained the usual form, Sargon, 



mark the distances. It ends after many turns at the 
gate of Ishtar, to the south-west side of the city. The 
defences of Dur-Sarginu are still in the same condition 
as Sargon left them. The outer wall runs across the 
plain, strengthened every twenty- seven yards by square 
towers, which dominate it with their crenellated tops, 
and project four yards beyond the curtain. It is 
twenty yards high, and the roadway at the top is so 

Fig. 111. — One of the Gates of DnrSarginu. 

wide that seven chariots can gallop abreast without 
touching each other. This great mass of building is 
really only a compact block of earth. The bricks, 
whilst still damp, are laid upon beds without mortar 
or cement of any kind, so that they have welded 
together and formed a substance which no siege 
battery can possibly injure sufficiently to cause a 
breach and lay the city open for an assault. 

There are eight gates, two upon each side. They 
open between two towers, which only leave space for 
the entrance itself. Each of them is dedicated to one 



of the gods of the city and is named after it — gate of 
Bel, gate of Beltis, gate of Ami, gate of Ishtar. They 
are covered towards the country by a small castle, 
which is defended at each angle by a low tower, twelve 
yards wide (Fig. 111). Five of them are large enough 
to admit animals as well as men. The peasants enter by 
them every morning, pushing their cattle before them 
or driving carts heavily loaded with vegetables and 
fruit. They pass through the first building, cross a 
large paved court, then penetrate between the two 

Fig. 112.— Transport of the Bull. 

towers, under an arched gateway forty- seven yards 
long, broken at almost equal intervals by two trans- 
verse galleries. Eleven steps placed in front of the 
court prevent animals and carts from entering it. 
Two gigantic bulls with human heads stand at the 
entrance of the passage, the face and chest turned 
towards the outside, the body placed against the inner 
wall; they seem waiting for an enemy, and are accom- 
panied by two winged genii half concealed behind them. 
The arch which separates them, and which is supported 
by their mitres, is decorated by a band of enamelled 
bricks, upon which more genii facing each other in pairs 



are holding fir cones ; a many-coloured rosette is in the 

The transport and placement of these stone mon- 
sters proved no light task. The blocks were quarried 
in the mountains of Kurdistan, and were then brought 
down to the banks of the Zab. Here they were roughly 
hewn into shape so as to lighten the weight, then 

Fig. 113.— A Winged -Bull. 

placed upon sledges, drawn by squadrons of foreign 
prisoners, who afterwards w T ith cords and levers hoisted 
them upon their stands, where the sculptors finished 
them (Fig. 112). They are now the mystic guardians 
of the city, which ward off not only the attacks of 
men, but the invasion of evil spirits and of pernicious 
maladies (Fig. 113). Every day the old men and 
idlers of the vicinity assemble at their feet. Standing, 



crouching, sitting upon the benches and stools they 
bring with them, they gossip about their affairs and 
regulate the destinies of the State without any fear of 
being disturbed. During the winter they are warm in 
the sunshine of the front court, and during the summer 
it is always cool under the arches. The judge of the 
district sometimes holds a sitting and gives judgment 
there, the merchants drive their bargains and discuss their 
business, whilst the politicians, always well informed, ex- 
change the last news from abroad — that the Governor of 
Egypt, Psammetichus, son of Necho, has driven an As- 
syrian garrison out of Memphis, or that the Cimmerians 
have burnt Sardes and killed Gryges the Lydian. 

Bur-Sarginu, through being built all at once, has 
none of the irregularities observed in older cities. The 
streets, which start from the gates, retain in every 
direction the width of the roads they continue. They 
are paved in the same way, have side- ways, or foot- 
paths, and are intersected at right angles. The houses 
which border them are usually one-storied. The door 
is narrow and high ; it seems to be concealed in a 
corner of the facade Scarcely a window breaks the 
unity of the wall, and the 
terraced roofs are sur- 
mounted by conical domes, 
or half-cupolas, which 
open inwards (Fig. 114). 
Strangers lodge in vast 
inns, situated near the 
ramparts. There is no 
outward distinction be- 
tween them and the private houses. The traveller 
enters, and finds himself in a large rectangular court ; 
in the centre is a well, shaded by a sycamore-tree ; all 
round are stories of small rooms, one above the other, 
in which the guests spend the night, and some large 
ones which are used for stables for the beasts of burden 
and storehouses for the merchandise. 

Fig. 114. — Assyrian Houses. 


Towards the centre of the town the houses become 
richer and more beautiful, the traffic increases, luxu- 
rious chariots are seen amongst the crowd of pedestrians. 
The common people and the burghers are of many 
different types, of various origin and physiognomy. 
The Assyrian conquerors are great movers of men. 
They pride themselves upon transplanting nations like 
trees, and upon sending the tribes from the North to 
the South, from the East to the West. After each of 
their campaigns thousands of captives are exiled, and 
go to colonise some distant country, of which the 
native population will probably fill the vacant places 
in their own land on the morrow. Sargon filled his 
city with people gathered from the four quarters of 
the world, from mountains and plains, from cities and 
deserts ; then he set over them, to keep them all in 
check, a handful of Assyrian soldiers, priests, and magis- 
trates. Now, after sixty years have passed, the de- 
scendants of these forced colonists have adopted the 
language and customs of their conquerors. They might 
be taken for Assyrians from their speech and dress, 
but their features betray their foreign extraction ; one 
still retains the aquiline profile of the Hebrews of 
Samaria, another has the fair hair and blue eyes of the 
Aryan Medes, a third displays the purest Armenian 
type, and many, who have sprung from mixed mar- 
riages, blend the characteristic features of three or four 
distinct races. r The mixture is not so great at Nineveh, 
Assur, Kalakh, and the ancient cities, yet it exists there, 
and more than one family boasts of the purity of its 
Assyrian blood, who would find a barbarian prisoner 
amongst their ancestors if they could trace their gene- 
alogy back to its primitive source. 

The royal palace is upon the north-east side of the 
city, half within, half without the enclosure (Fig. 115). 
Like the majority of important civil or religious edi- 
fices it is erected upon an esplanade of brickwork, 
formed of two rectangles joined like a T, a hillock 








i— i 







built by the labour of man, which raises the foot of 
the walls far above the surrounding roofs. It is acces- 
sible from the city only ; pedestrians reach it by a 
double staircase constructed in front of the phttform, 
horsemen and carriages by a gently sloping ascent, 
which commences at the right flank of the building 
and ends on the east side of it, at the foot of high 
crenellated white walls. The king dwells there as in a 
turret, from whence he can see the whole country, and 


r~ — — — 

Fig. 116. — Triumphal Gate at the Entrance to the Palace (from Place). 

which he could defend long after the city had fallen 
into the hands of the enemy. Two principal gates 
correspond with the two ways of access ; the one to the 
north-east leads directly to the royal apartments, the 
other is turned towards the city and overlooks the 
double staircase. Two high masts, surmounted by the 
royal standard, designate the entrance ; they are visible 
from a great distance (Fig. 116). The door is placed 
between two towers, their base ornamented by winged 
bulls and human-headed figures. Two still larger bulls 


stand at the right and left of the entrance, a band of 
enamelled bricks defines the centre, and higher up, just 
below the battlements, an enamelled picture represents 
Sargon in all his glory. This triumphal arch is reserved 
for the king's use ; two lower and less richly decorated 
side-doors admit the crowd. 

The immense court into which they open is still a 
public place, which tradesmen, merchants of every 
kind, supplicants, and even mere sightseers, enter 
without the least difficulty. Thousands of persons are 
attached to the sovereign's household, and to the ad- 
ministration of his business : some as chamberlains, 
treasurers, scribes, eunuchs, military chiefs ; others as 
soldiers, footmen, and cooks. There is a perpetual 
movement of detachments relieving guard, couriers 
starting or arriving with their dispatches, officials who 
are going to an audience or coming from it ; files of 
donkeys bring provisions ; morning and evening hun- 
dreds of male and female slaves descend in procession 
to draw from the tributaries of the Khosr the water 
required for such an immense number of people. The 
warehouses fill three sides of the court ; here cellars 
for wine and oil, there stores of iron weapons, further 
on the room for copper, and one for the precious metals 
and jewels ; the king's treasury, where he keeps the 
spoil of the vanquished nations, or the taxes collected 
from his people. The kitchens join the bakeries, the 
horse and camel stables communicate with the chariot 
house. The buildings that fill the southern corner a 
little beyond the stables are occupied by the servants 
of the palace ; each family inhabits a little dark room ; 
they are dressed and fed at the king's expense, and do 
all the menial work of the establishment. A small 
door in the southern angle of the court leads to the 
harem. Assyrian women of the lower classes enjoy 
almost unlimited independence. They go about as 
they like through the streets and roads, wearing a 
long dress of shaggy material, their feet bare, their 



head and face uncovered. They frequent the markets, 
visit their friends, attend to their business, and are 
quite unrestrained in their actions ; they can dispose 
of their own proper t}^, inherit, buy and sell on their 
own account, bear witness in a court of justice ; in 
short, they are the equals, or very nearly so, of their 
husbands. Women of higher rank possess the same 
rights in the eyes of the law, but practically they have 
very little real liberty. All the luxury and all the 
comfort that wealth can procure they have or they 


Fig. 117. — One of the Gates of the Harem at Dur-Sarginu (from Place). 

take, but they must remain at home ; when they go 
out they are surrounded by servants, eunuchs, or pages, 
whose close ranks prevent them from seeing much of 
the outer world. The queens are completely slaves to 
their dignity, and remain almost invisible during their 
whole lives, receiving members of their family and of 
the household only. 

When Sargon founded his city he had three legiti- 
mate wives, and to each of them he granted a distinct 
establishment ; his harem, therefore, contained three 
compartments, or rather three houses. The first is 
isolated in the southern angle of the palace ; the two 


others communicate with a square court, which serves 
as the common hall. Two benches covered with 
enamelled bricks run the whole length of the facade. 
Two gilded bronze palm-trees frame the opening ; the 
palm, as we know, is the emblem of grace and fecun- 
dity, so that no subject could be more suitable for 
the decoration of a harem (Fig. 117). The internal 
arrangement of the three houses is precisely similar: 
an ante-room wider than it is long, a drawing-room, 
of which one half is unroofed, the other half is covered 
with a semi-dome, a staircase with eleven steps, and 
the bedroom (Fig. 118). The walls are coated with 
white stucco, and bordered with a black plinth ; the 
floor is nagged or carefully bricked ; here and there 
mats, carpets, stools, armchairs, low tables, and in the 
alcove a wooden bed, raised upon feet, with its mattress 
and coverings. 

After marriage the life of the queens is passed in 
this prison : dress, embroidery, needlework, and house- 
keeping, long conversations with their slaves, the ex- 
change of visits, and the festivals, with dancing 
and singing, with which they entertain each other, 
serve for occupation and amusement. From time to 
time the king passes some hours amongst them, or 
invites them to dine with him and amuse themselves 
in the hanging gardens of the palace. The wives of 
the princes and great nobles are occasionally admitted 
to pay homage to them, but very rarely, for fear they 
should serve as intermediaries between the recluses and 
the outer world. Yet a thousand intrigues are carried 
on beneath this apparently monotonous and simple life. 
The wives, who divide the affection of one man, cannot 
feel any friendship for each other. The least mark of 
interest shown by the master to either of them is a 
source of anxiety to the others ; if the favour increase, 
anxiety becomes jealousy, and jealousy a mortal hatred. 
The neglected wives forget their former quarrels and 
unite against the favourite, the eunuchs take sides, and 



war commences — a war of artifice and treason, which 
ends in crime. A few drops of poison often dispose of 

Fig. 118. — A Bedroom in the Harem at Dur-Sarginu. 

a rival who appears to exercise too much influence over 
the sovereign. 

The royal dwelling lies on the other side, away 
from the harem and the great court. It faces the 

A ROYAL residence: DUR-SARGINU. 


south-east, towards the point where the ascent ends on 
the ramparts of the city. The king, without leaving 
his chariot or his horse, can penetrate to the very door 
of his private apartments. He alights in front of the 
monumental entrance, as usual guarded by a squadron 
of winged bulls in painted plaster, crosses the threshold 
between two lines of motionless sentinels and slaves, 
bowing low, their arms crossed on their breast ; passes 
through a yard and a passage, then at last reaches the 
court of honour in the very centre of the palace. He 
occupies about twenty rather small rooms, decorated in 
a very simple style, where 
he sleeps, eats, works, re- 
ceives visitors, and super- 
intends the majority of 
current affairs under the 
protection of his eunuchs 
and in the company of his 
secretaries. The other 
rooms consist of state 
drawing-rooms, all alike, 
in which the crowd of 
courtiers and viziers wait 
for an audience or for the 
passage of the master. 
A shaded light falls from 
above, through round 
windows pierced in the 
arched roofs. Long bands 

of bas-reliefs in plaster, painted in bright colours, or- 
nament the walls for about nine feet of their height. 
They depict scenes from the life of the founder of the 
city. Sargon, standing, receives one of his ministers, 
who offers him the necessary equipment for war or for 
a journey. Each object is carried by an eunuch : the 
cups and drinking-horns ornamented by the muzzle of 
a lion ; the throne, mounted upon two wheels and 
harnessed like a chariot (Fig. 119) ; the armchair; the 

Fig;. 119.— The King's Wheeled 
Throne carried by two men. 


low table, intended for meals and sacrifices ; the war- 
chariot, a double seat, a tripod, and, closing the proces- 
sion, a cup-bearer, who carries the metal bowl in which 
he rinses the master's cup between the bumpers. Fur- 
ther on, Sargon is hunting the gazelle or the lion. 
Elsewhere he is riding at the head of his army, across 
the plains of Syria or the mountains of Armenia. The 
artist has amused himself by reproducing the details 
which gives to each country its special physiognomy : a 
mountain is covered with pines and cypress, a district 
is planted with vines; the rivers appear to open, showing 
us the animals they contain — fish of various kinds, 
shells, tortoises, crabs ; even the eels and frogs on their 
banks are represented. Formerly the sculptors covered 
their work with long inscriptions, which passed over 
the bodies of the persons represented, and disfigured 
them. The new school is less prodigal of writing. A 
few short phrases still explain the subject of the picture 
and the details of each scene, but long texts are rele- 
gated to the back of the plaster slabs, and are turned 
to the wall. The Assyrian monarchy is already old 
enough to have experienced the vicissitudes to which 
the best - constructed palaces are exposed. How- 
ever solid the work may be, however powerful the 
dynasty may appear to be, the day will inevitably come 
when new cities and new royalties will displace the 
ancient ones,. When Dur-Sarginu is abandoned, 
when its halls are empty and its walls crumbling, the 
hidden inscriptions will be found and will relate their 
stories to posterity, so that the glory of Sargon shall 
be told even in the ruins of the city that he founded. 
The gods have not been forgotten ; they dwell on 
the north-east of the platform, near the palace gardens, 
between the harem and the king's house. An 
irregular building has been reserved for them, con- 
taining the same kind of rooms that we have seen 
elsewhere, with white walls, black plinths, a few 
frescoes representing arabesques, animals, or symbolic 


genii. There, in an isolation almost as complete as 
that of the women, the priests and sacred slaves pass 
their time in studying the mysteries and celebrating 
the ritual. The King of Assyria is not the direct 
descendant of a god, like Pharaoh of Egypt ; he is a 
man born of a human father, and in all the annals of 
his genealogy, to the remotest generations, he will find 
but men like himself Nevertheless, he is the supreme 
head of the national religions : he sacrifices in the 
name of the people, presides at the solemn festivals, 
alone penetrates into the sanctuary, sees the gods face 
to face, and speaks to them. He never undertakes 
anything without consulting them, never enters upon 
a campaign without receiving some favourable oracles 
encouraging him to do so ; he first deducts for them one 
tithe of the booty taken from the enemy, and he even 
extends to their priests the effects of the gratitude he 
vows to them in exchange for their protection. 

However, his piety does not blind him to the point 
of allowing the priesthood to acquire any undue influence 
in the affairs of the State. Pharaoh has been seen to 
bow before the pontiffs of Theban Amen, and to for- 
cibly dispute the crown with them, but no Assyrian 
monarch ever bent the head before the clergy of 
Shamash or Assur. Yet the descendants of Sargon 
profess a special devotion for the Queen Ishtar, the god- 
dess of Nineveh and Arbela : Esarhaddon called her 
his mistress, and saw her in the battle-field charging 
the enemy before him. Assurbanipal invokes her, and 
invokes no other god in the most solemn circumstances ; 
the veneration which he feels for her enriches her 
priests, but does not incline him to allow them any 
share in the government. Thus, whilst in Egypt the 
temple is built for eternity in calcareous stone, in 
granite, or sculptured sandstone, and the palace in 
light materials that do not resist the action of time, 
in Assyria the palace is greater than the temple in 
architectural grandeur and beauty of decoration. The 


king, his officers, wives, and treasures, occupy more 
than three-quarters of the platform ; the priests are 
relegated into a corner as it were, the last thought in 
the plans for the royal citadel. The priests, but not 
the gods. Just as the crenellated terraces of the palace 
rise far above the pavement of the city, so the summit 
of their temple uplifts itself still higher above the 
battlements of the palace. An ancient story, well 
known to all the dwellers by the Euphrates, and 
which the Hebrews of Jerusalem have recorded in their 
books, relates that after the deluge, in which humanity 
perished, the inhabitants of the land of Shinar said 
unto each other : ' Come, let us make bricks, and burn 
them thoroughly. ' And they had brick for stone, and 
bitumen for mortar. And they said : ' Come let us 
build a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto 
heaven ; ' but the gods were alarmed at their audacity 
and confounded their language, so that they were dis- 
persed over the whole earth. The tower was never 
finished, and many people say that the great tower of 
Bel at Babylon is a fragment of it. 

The first Chaldean architects differed from the 
master-masons of Egypt in not seeking the grandeur 
of their sanctuaries in the development of horizontal 
lines ; they made them as high as they possibly could 
without risking their stability, as if they would ascend 
to heaven. TJheir ziggordt — so they are called — seen 
at a distance recall the stepped pyramids near Memphis; 
they are really storied towers, formed of cubed bricks 
laid one above the other, and joined by an ascent, 
which winds like a cornice from the top to the bottom 
of the edifice. The tower of Dur-^'arginu rises forty- 
five yards above the esplanade (Fig. 120). It has seven 
stories, consecrated to the divinities of the seven planets, 
each painted with the colour of its deity — the first in 
white, the second in black, the third in purple, the 
fourth in blue, the fifth in vermilion, the sixth in silver 
colour, the last gilded. It is massive, and contains no 



hall ; but the upper platform supports a small cupola 
covered with plates of gold : two stoue altars, a statue 
of Ishtar, a bed, and the implements for the sacrifices, 
form the whole furniture of this miniature chapel. 
This is the room of the goddess, which the priests and 


Fig. 120.— The Tower of the Seven Planets at Dur-Sargiru 
(after Place). 

the king only may enter without committing sacrilege. 
Her spirit is here attached to the statue like the doubles 
of the Egyptian idols ; * from hence she watches over 
the people that live at her feet, foretells the calamities 
which threaten them, and teaches them by the voice 
of her prophets how to weaken, if not to avert, the 

* For an explanation of the double, see p. 43 and following of this 


impending evil. Every morning the gilding of the 
chapel and of the upper story is illumined by the rays 
of the sun, and resembles a fire which all day burns 
between heaven and earth, and which marks the 
position of the city a long distance off. The weary 
traveller salutes it as soon as he catches sight of 
it, and quickens the speed of his horses in his impa- 
tience to arrive ; when he resumes his journey the 
reflection accompanies him, and seems to brighten 
his way long after the tumult of the city has died 
away, and the palace buildings have faded into the 
distant horizon. 




The boats on the Tigris — Dangers and annoyances of commerce — 
A merchant's house: the terraces, furniture, food — Protectiva 
amulets — Exorcism for the safety of the family and house — 
Purchase of an estate — Drawing up and signing the deed of sale — 
Marriage by auction— An offer of marriage — The contract and the 
wedding festivities — The virtues of a good wife. 

The merchant Iddina has returned from Babylon, 
where he had gone on business. He trades between 
that city and the Nairi,* and is therefore continually 
travelling. Every year he buys the produce of 
certain vineyards lying towards Amidi, and per- 
sonally superintends the construction of the boats 
in which he carries the wine. Their form is very 
curious. They are round baskets made of osiers or 
willows, covered with skins sewn together. Some of 
them are very large, and can carry a weight of five 
thousand talents, f A layer of straw is placed at the 
bottom, upon which the jars of wine are carefully 
packed, then more straw is laid over them. The crew 
always includes at least two rowers and one or more 
asses. At the end of the journey the merchant sells 
the straw and wine, then dismantles the boat, which 
cannot be taken to Nai'ri by the Tigris on account of 
the rapidity of the current, sells the baskets for what 

* The Nairi is the country in the upper basin of the Tigris between 
the lake of Van and the Euphrates. 

t About 260,000 pounds in round numbers. 


"be can get, loads the asses with the skins, and returns 
to his home by land. 

This commerce is attended by many dangers. The 
Tigris is in many places a capricious, violent torrent. 
More than one boat, drawn into an unexpected eddy, 
founders with all its cargo, or is thrown upon the bank 
and so much damaged that the owners are obliged to 
rebuild it. The inhabitants of the river banks are 
usually robbers and unreliable guides ; they stop and 
pillage the voyagers, or force them to buy a free 
passage by presents. Lastly, the Assyrian governors 
and Babylonian officials are greedy, unscrupulous men, 
who must be conciliated by gifts in kind or money, 
and a large portion of the merchandise remains in 
their hands. All this diminishes the merchant's gains 
and increases his risk ; yet the profits are so large that 
a great many men devote themselves to the river trade, 
and enrich themselves by it. Besides, the roads are no 
better, and if men wait until there is complete safety 
in this world before they attempt any commerce, they 
may remain at home all their lives and never be able 
to start. There is perfect security for travellers in 
Assyria itself, from Nineveh to Arbela, or from Arbela 
to Kalakh and El Assur. The kings insist upon the 
police being implacably severe, and, except in civil 
war, a man may travel alone without fear of robbers. 
But as soon as he gets beyond the centre of the empire 
the security diminishes, and the merchants dare only 
venture in caravans across the Syrian provinces or 
foreign lands ; and even the strongest parties are not 
safe from a disaster. Not only the nomads and pro- 
fessional bandits are always roaming round them, and 
force them to exercise perpetual watchfulness, but the 
inhabitants of the villages, the small local nobility — 
even the kings, not content with the regular tolls, 
which they can legally exact on the road — have no 
scruples about attacking them on the way. The 
merchandise is divided amongst the pillagers, or goes 



to enrich the royal treasury ; the men are massacred or 
sold as slaves. The merchant perpetually sways be- 
tween wealth, slavery, or death. 

Iddina's house stands at a short distance from the 
gate of Ishtar. It is larger and higher than the 
neighbouring houses, but there is no other external 
difference between them. It opens upon the street 
by a small arched gateway, followed by a dark, narrow 
passage, which passes through the thickness of the 
buildings and opens upon a large court, round 
which the rooms are arranged. A kind of verandah 
extends all round ; posts planted in the earth support 
a light awning, which is fastened to the wall. The 
rooms are narrow, oblong ; a few are arched, a few 
others covered with a flat ceiling supported by the 
trunks of palm-trees. The majority of them are store- 
houses for the provisions and household wealthy a 
small number only are inhabited. They are all sur- 
mounted by a terrace, which is reached by a steep 
brick staircase ; from it there is a view over the sur- 
rounding houses. The Assyrian women spend a good 
deal of time upon the roofs. They remain there all 
the morning until driven away by 
the noonday heat, and they go 
back as soon as the sun declines 
in the horizon. There they per- 
form all their household duties, 
chatting from one terrace to the 
other. They knead the bread, pre- 
pare the cooking, wash the linen, 
and hang it out to dry ; or if they 
have slaves to relieve them from 
these menial labours (Fig. 121), 
they instal themselves upon cushions 

and chat or embroider in the open . o 1nTT „ i *Li- ™ u 
tv . ,1-l L r l p A Slave kneading Dough, 

air. During the hottest hours oi 

the day they descend and take refuge indoors. The 

coolest room in the house is often below the level of 


the courtyard, and receives very little light. The floor 
is paved with slabs of polished plaster of Paris, which 
resemble a fine grey and white marble, and the walls 
are covered with a layer of fine plaster, soft to both 
eye and touch. They are watered several times a-day 
during the summer, and the water refreshes the air as 
it evaporates. 

The furniture is very simple, even amongst the rich 
burghers. It is chiefly composed of chairs and stools 
of various forms, mounted some upon straight feet, 
others upon crossed legs. As a rule, the household 
sleep upon mats, but the master's and mistress's rooms 
contain wooden bedsteads raised upon four lion's feet, 
with a mattress and two coverings.* A baking oven is 
built in one corner of the court, skins of wine and jars 
full of water hang to cool from the lintels of the porch, 
a fireplace in the open air supports a large saucepan, 
in which a joint of meat is boiling. The Assyrians 
eat a good deal and drink still more. The poor are 
forced to content themselves with a little bread, a few 
vegetables prepared with salt and oil, and the fish 
which swarm in the river. The rich have as varied 
and abundant food as the Egyptian nobles. They 
repose upon beds of ivory or valuable wood as they 
dine, and scent themselves profusely before commenc- 
ing their repast. The men and women are served 
separately in solemn banquets, but in every- day life 
they meet round the same table, or rather round the 
same dish. 

Amulets are placed on every side, in every corner 
of the house ; they are intended to protect the inhabi- 
tants from the evil eye and evil spirits. The Assyrians 
believe that the world is full of demons, eternally 
occupied in laying snares for men. They are rarely, if 
ever, seen, yet they are continually felt in the air, 
upon earth, at the bottom of the waters ; they are as 
numerous as the motes of dust which dance in a sun- 
* Compare, for the picture of a bed, Fig. 118, p. 208. 



beam. They cannot be warded off except by incanta- 
tions and talismans. The surest method of getting rid of 
them is to place in a very prominent position a statuette 
which represents them ; then an incantation is recited 
or graven upon this portrait of themselves, which 
keeps them at a distance. The figures of one of the 
most formidable demons, the South-west Wind, which 
by its inflamed breath 
dries up the harvests 
and consumes men and 
animals with fever, are 

therefore hung above all 
the doors and upon the 
terraces. Iddina pos- 
sesses them of every size 
and every material, in 
bronze, red jasper, yellow 
stone, and baked earth. 
The demon possesses a 
dog's body, standing upon 
eagle's legs, arms fur- 
nished with lion's claws, 
a scorpion's tail, two pairs 
of wings, and an ema- 
ciated human head with 
goat's horns. He is so 
ugly that the mere sight 
of his own image drives 

him away (Fig. 122) 

Fig. 122.— The South-west Wind : a 
bronze statuette. 

Other images of the same 
kind are buried beneath the stones of the threshold, so 
as to bar the entrance to all destructive spirits. As a 
rule, they bear the head of a different animal, and their 
form is unknown to our world. Many of them are 
only the national gods, w ho are obliged by a formula 
to keep guard over a private individual: Bel, wearing 
his tiara and horns ; Nergal, with his lion's muzzle ; 
Nebo, Merodach, and Ishtar. 


We see, then, that a divine army is needed to 
combat the evil spirits which menace our poor humanity. 
' They are the creation of hell, the great worms which 
heaven has let loose upon the earth, the terrible ones, 
whose howlings break forth in all parts of the city, 
who fall amongst the waters of heaven, the sons that 
issued from the bosom of the earth. They roll round 
the high beams, the large beams, like a crown. They 
pass from house to house, for the door cannot shut 
them out, no bolt can prevent them from entering ; 
they glide like serpents beneath the door, and creep 
through the joints of the hinges like a puff of wind. 
They estrange the wife from the arms of her husband, 
drive the free man from the house in which he was 
born, and inspire the threatening voice which pursues 
him from behind.'* The gods charged to repulse them 
have each their special post, where they wait to fight 
them. Nergal is on the top of the wall and beneath 
the threshold ; Ilea and Merodach are in the passage, 
to the right and left of the gate ; Naroudi is in the 
earth near the bed. Since all labour merits some 
reward, food and cups full of liquid are offered to these 
guardians night and morning, and they are invited to 
regale themselves. ' Oh, you, the sublime ones, children 
of Hea, eat and drink well, so that ye may keep watch 
that no evil can penetrate amongst us.' 

Iddina, upoii his return home from a long voj^age, 
rapidly repeats a formula which should ward off from 
his home anything fatal he may have brought with 
him. ' The pestilence and fever which might carry off 
my people ; disease, consumption, which might devastate 
my land, injurious to the flesh, destructive to the body; 
the evil incubus, the evil spirit, the evil imp, the evil 
man, the evil eye, the slanderous mouth, the slanderous 
tongue, may they be driven away from the man, the 

* This allusion is either to the voices sometimes heard in the night, 
or to effects of the voice of the magician ^7hich unceasingly pursues 
the man against whom an incantation has been directed. 


son of his god, may they be driven from his body, from 
his bowels. May they never come near my body, never 
wound my eye, never come behind my back; may they 
never enter my house, never cross the beams of my 
roof, never descend into my dwelling. Double* of 
heaven, conjure them ! Double of the earth, conjure 

As soon as Iddina has placed his asses in the stables 
and seen the bales of merchandise carried into the 
storehouses, his wife, Noubta, tells him everything 
that has happened during his absence — the conduct of 
the servants, the quantity of materials that they have 
woven and dyed. ' The weaver, Mousidnou, has come 
to borrow five-sixths of a mana of silver, which our 
son, Zamamanadin, has lent him, and which he will re- 
pay in a year ; the interest is so calculated that it will 
double the capital in the time/ Iddina expresses his 
satisfaction with the investment his son has made. 
Zamamanadin is more than twenty years old ; he is 
strong, elegant, well educated, and begins to manage 
the business almost as well as his father. For the last 
two years Iddina has confided to him the management 
of his fortune whilst he is absent on his journeys to 
Nairi, and Zamamanadin has already brought more 
than one delicate transaction to a successful issue. 
Now he is thinking of marriage, and wishes to acquire 
an estate in the neighbourhood of Dur-Sarginu, capable 
of producing an income that, joined to the share of 
profits allowed to him by his father, will enable him to 
maintain a family- He thinks that he has found a 
place likely to suit him, and the owner is not too 
exacting ; it lies just beyond the Khosr, almost half- 
way from the village of Sai'ri. The land is fairly ex- 
tensive ; it takes thirty-five measures of wheat to sow 
it, they say, and it will be easy to verify the amount. 
It is good corn iand, which has belonged to Nabouirib 

* Double is here taken in the sense it has above, page 43 of this 


for a long time ; but lie is thinking of selling it because 
he is now too 'old to cultivate it himself, and all his 
relations are engaged in the town in more lucrative 
pursuits than that of a labourer. He first asked seven 
mana for it, but he soon lowered his price, and Zama- 
manadin hopes to obtain it for five. Iddina carefully 
notes down this information, and promises to conclude 
the bargain himself as soon as he has settled his own 
business. He was lucky enough to obtain at a reduced 
price, in the market of Babylon, several bales of wool 
dyed in Tyrian purple, which a Sidonian merchant, 
who was anxious to return home, desired to get rid o:^ 
at any sacrifice. It is a material of incomparably fine 
texture and of great beauty, and if the chief of the: 
eunuchs would but mention it to the queen they might 
sell it for three times its value, including the expenses* 
of delivery at Dur-Sargihu. Half the price should be 
for Zamamana iin, and it would amply suffice for the 
purchase of the wished-for estate. 

The chief of the eunuchs, prepossessed in favour 
of the Tyrian purple by the gift of an amulet finely 
engraved with Ilea, the fish-god, between two wor- 
shippers, managed so well that the queen at once 
bought all the bales. The day after the sale Iddina 
went to Sairi to examine the estate for his son. The 
aspect is good, the land excellent. A stream crosses it 
and divides it into two unequal parts ; the smaller 
could be easily converted into a vegetable garden — one 
or two water-swings placed upon the bank would 
supply the water necessary for market gardening. The 
matter drags a little for some days, then the sale is 
arranged after much bargaining: and some mutual COn- 
cessions ; the price is five manas, and a day is fixed 
for sealing the contract before Judge Nabousakin. On 
the twent} r -fifth of Tebet, in the morning, the two con- 
tracting parties meet at the gate of Ishtar, each accom- 
panied by a scribe and some witnesses (Fig. 123). The 
title of scribe is not so common in Assyria as it is in 


Fig. 123.— A Scribe, from the figure restored by M. Heuzey 
in the Exhibition of 1889. 


Egypt ; the officers, nobles, and officials of high rank 
disdain it, and leave it to the professional writers who 
draw up documents for the administration and con- 
tracts between private individuals. The scribes are 
provided with several tablets of baked clay, still soft 
enough to take an impression, yet hard enough for it 
not to be easily defaced or lost once it has been made. 
Each scribe takes one of them, which he lays flat in 
the palm of his left hand, and taking in his right hand 
a triangular stylus, its point cut like a bezel, com- 
mences to write. The marks obtained by gently 
pressing the instrument upon the clay resemble a 
corner,* or a metal nail. The scribe commences on 
the left below the upper edge of the tablet, and soon 
covers both sides of it with remarkable dexterity. The 
two scribes engaged by tbe contracting parties and the 
one belonging to the judge write the formulas* at the 
same time, for every public deed must be drawn out at 
least three times. Formerly two copies only were 
made, and they remained in the hands of the two 
contracting parties; but sometimes it happened that 
skilful but dishonest people altered the writing to their 
own advantage. The Chaldeans invented an ingenious 
method of preventing frauds of this kind. The tablet, 
once sealed, they covered it with a second layer of clay, 
upon which they traced an exact copy of the original 
deed. The latter became inaccessible to the forgers, 
and if a dispute arose and some alteration was sus- 
pected in the visible text, the case tablet was broken 
before witnesses, and the deed was verified by the 
edition preserved inside. Now all important deeds are 
copied three times, two of the tablets are given to the 
interested parties, the third is deposited with a royal 
notary. The work ended, the scribes compare their 
writings to see that there are no omissions in either of 
them. Then the judge reads the deed of sale aloud: 

* This is why modern scholars have called the writings the cunei 
form characters. 


' A field large enough, to require thirty-five mea- 
sures of seed corn to sow it, of wheat land, situated in 
the town of Sairi, bounded by the property of Irsisi, by 
the field of Shamasshoumouzir, by the field of Shamass- 
alim, by the public pasture meadows ; Iddina has ac- 
quired it for five manas of silver. 

* The price has been definitely settled, the field has 
been paid for, and the buyer has entered into possession, 
so that the contract cannot now be cancelled. 

'If, in time to come, any one wishes to contest the 
sale, be it Nabouirib, be it his sons, or be it his brothers, 
and he wishes to bring a claim against Iddina, against 
his sons, or against his sons' sons, to demand that the 
contract be cancelled, he shall pa} 7 ten manas of silver 
and one man a of gold to the treasury of the goddess 
Ishtar, who dwells in Nineveh, and moreover he shall 
repay to the buyer tenfold the price of the sale ; he 
may bring the claim, but he cannot win by the action. 

'Before Madie, Binshoumedir, Naboushouniidin, 
Mousezibil, Habasle, Belkashdour, Irsisi, Kannounai, 
Bahe ; Nabousakin, judge. 

'In the month of Tebet, the 25th, in the eponymy 

The reading over, the contracting parties and the 
witnesses each signed in the usual place and way. 
Iddina and his witnesses placed a nail- mark upon one 
side of the tablet, and this, mark, accompanied by the 
note, Nail of Iddina, Nail of Binshoumedir, is their 
signature. Nabouirib and the scribes fix their seal at 
the top and upon the back of the tablet, and a few 
words placed above or at the side, name the owner of 
the mark. The seals used are of hard stones of every 
kind, in red or green jasper, agate, cornelian, onyx, 
rock crystal ; a few are in amber or metal. They are 

* This deed is authentic, and dates from the reign of Esarhaddon 
(December, 673 B.C.). I have transported it, intact, to the reign of 
Assurbanipal, simply changing the name of the real buyer to that of 
Iddina ; I have also transformed the Assyrian measures to modern 
ones that are nearly equivalent. 


of Shai ouri. 



Fig. 124. — Assyrian Cylinders. 

often shaped like a cylinder, sometimes like a truncated 
cone, with a slightly convex base, and are engraved 
with figures of the gods or goddesses, sometimes alone, 

sometimes receiving the 
homage of their wor- 
shipper; the owner's 
name frequently accom- 
panies the scene (Fig. 124). 
Each witness rolls his 
cylinder or stamps his seal 
upon the clay, and the 
judge, the last of all, 
legalises the signatures. 
The clay tablets are then 
placed in an oven and are rapidly transformed into so 
many solid bricks. Iddina, at once, by a new series of 
deeds, transfers to his son the land he has just acquired. 
Zamamanadin's dowry is now settled ; Noubta can at 
once search for a daughter-in-law. 

Marriage is both an act of civil law and a rite of 
domestic worship. It follows engagements made by 
two parties, consecrated by one or several formal con- 
tracts, drawn up by a scribe, and sealed by witnesses, 
an authentic copy of each deed being deposited with one 
of the notaries of the town. The lady Noubta will have 
no difficulty in finding a wife for Zamamanadin. A 
young man, rich, good-looking, and with an honourable 
profession, can choose almost as he likes amongst the 
young girls in the district ; there are very few that 
would be withheld by their families. Noubta only 
hesitates between the various fashions of marrying 
authorised by custom, and wonders which of them will 
be the best for her son and for herself. Shall she buy 
her future daughter-in-law ? It is said that formerly, 
in Babylon, a fair was annually held in one of the 
markets of the city for the sale of girls. A public crier 
put them up to auction, one after the other, commencing 
by the most beautiful, for whom all the would-be hus- 


bands disputed at a high price. The plain ones fol- 
lowed, but instead of selling them for money, a dowry 
proportioned to their ugliness was given to them. This 
sum was levied from the sale of the beauties. The 
auction ended, the couples were formally married, and 
the women followed their husbands to their new home. 
Now customs have changed ; women are no longer 
bought in public, but generally from relations. Nikhte- 
qarraou, one of Noubta's neighbours, procured in this 
way the young Tavas-hasina as a wife for her son 
Zikha. Tavas-hasina was pretty, industrious, well 
educated, but poor ; her parents were only too happy 
to secure her future by a matrimonial sale. In these 
cases the price is never high ; Nikhteqarraou paid 
eighteen drachms of silver* for her daughter-in-law,, 
and she is well worth it. The dyer, Nabouakhidin, 
who lives at the corner of the street, managed still 
better. He did not pay anything for Banatsaggil, the 
musician ; he contented himself with inserting a clause 
in the contract by which he bound himself to pay an 
indemnity of six manas in silverf if he should repudiate 
her to marry a second wife. It is true that six manas 
form a large sum, but he, therefore, took precautions 
so that he should not pay it knowingly, for a second 
clause adds that should Banatsaggil ever fail in her 
duty she shall be put to death with the sword. Now 
death is not the usual punishment for an unfaithful 
wife ; she is simply deprived of her clothes and turned 
into the street, where, henceforth, she lives as she may. 
The capital punishment is only mentioned to enable 
Nabouakhiden to avoid paying the six manas should he 
feel inclined to divorce Banatsaggil ; he will have 
mercy upon her if she consents to forego her dowry. 
Noubta does not guard against misfortunes so far 
off ; marriage by coemption appears to offer great 
advantages to her. A daughter by purchase does not 
bring with her that arrogance and those pretensions 

* About 67 francs 50 cents of silver money in weight (2/. 16s.) 

t Six manas of silver about equal 1350 francs in silver weight (54L) 


to occupy the first place, which are so often the despair 
of mothers-in-law. It is to her interest to be gentle and 
obliging, to respect the habits of her new family ; a 
dispute with her husband's parents might entail divorce, 
and send her back to poverty. In fact, she is her 
husband's slave, his chattel, and the law so completely 
regards her in that light that, if by chance, her father 
or any of her family wished to reclaim her, they would 
be punished by a fine, the penalty reserved for people 
convicted of unreasonably contesting the validity of a 
deed of sale ; in the case of Tavas-hasina, the fine is 
fixed by the marriage contract at the sum of ten manas 
of silver.* 

Daughters-in-law at a low price are not scarce. But 
Noubta determines to inquire, before choosing one of 
them, whether amongst her friends or her friends' 
friends she cannot find a girl rich enough for 
Zamamanadin to marry without paying for her, or 
even settling a dowry. And it happens that Nikhte- 
qarraou is on visiting terms with the wife of a merchant 
named Soula'i, who lives near the gate of Shamash, 
and who has several marriageable daughters. Bilit- 
sounou, the eldest, is nearly thirteen years old ; she is 
tall, slender, with bright red lips, large eyes, thick, 
black eyebrows, meeting above the nose. She knows 
how to manage a house, can sing, play the harp, 
embroider without a pattern, read and w T rite fluently ; 
no girl of noble' birth could have received a better or 
more complete education. The father is a good man, 
honest, respected throughout the whole district for his 
integrity; he owns a draper's shop, with a good con- 
nexion, and his mother, who still lives, possesses a great 
deal of land, which she will bequeath to him. Noubta 
obtains an introduction to the harem of Soula'i ; the 
young girl pleases her, the marriage is arranged 
between the women, and ere long there is only the 
official request to be made for her. 

* Ten manas of silver are about 2250 francs of silver money in 
weight (90L) 


Iddina powders and scents himself, puts on his best 
fringed robe, then goes to Soula'i's house, and, after a 
few compliments, explains his errand : ' Will you give 
your daughter Bilitsounou in marriage to my son 
Zamamanadin ?' Soula'i consents, and without further 
delay the two men arrange the dowry. Both fathers 
are ginerous and rich, but they are also men of business 
habits. One begins by asking too much, the other re- 
plies by offering too little ; it is only after some hours 
of bargaining that they finally agree and settle what 
each knew from the beginning was a reasonable dowry 
— a mana of silver, three servants, a trousseau, and 
furniture, with permission for the father to substitute 
articles of equal value for the cash. The marriage 
day is fixed for that day week, the 10th Adar. The 
preparations do not take long. The young girl has, 
during the last year, woven and embroidered all the 
materials required for her clothing and for the orna- 
mentation of her room. The three slaves given to her 
were born in the house and know their mistress since 
her infancy. The bed, seats, chests, and hardware 
which furnish a harem are bought ready-made in the 
market. The chief point for the bride is the adorn- 
ment of her person, so that she may find favour in the 
eyes of her husband when she unveils herself before 
him on their wedding clay, and he sees her face for the 
first time. She bathes herself, carefully anoints her 
body and hair with essences, dyes the palms of her 
hands and her nails red with henna, powders her cheeks, 
and darkens her eyebrows. Her friends rally round 
her to assist her, to counsel her, and above all to chatter 
noisily from morning till night, these days of waiting 
being reckoned amongst the happiest of a woman's life. 
On the morning of the 10th, the friends of the two 
families having assembled in the bride's house, the 
scribe who is to draw up the marriage contract appears. 
The two fathers and the bridegroom are in festival 
dress, and do the honours of the house. The astrologer 
has been consulted, and has declared that the day is 


lucky and the omens favourable. The men assemble 
in the reception-rooms, the women are grouped in the 
harem round the bride, the time has come for accom- 
plishing the usual formalities. Iddina rises and makes 
his offer aloud. Soula'i accepts it, and announces the 
dowry he will give, amidst the approving murmurs of 
the assembly. Bilitsounou now enters, escorted by her 
friends and by the women of the two families. She is 
placed by the side of her bridegroom ; Iddina, seizing 
her hand and that of Zamamanadin, lays them palm 
upon palm, then ties them together with a thread of 
wool, the emblem of the bond which henceforth links 
the wufe to the husband ; then he invokes the double 
of Nebo and of Merodach, as well as the double of the 
King Assurbanipal, and prays them to grant long 
years of happiness to the young couple. Only a free 
man has the right of conducting this symbolic cere- 
mony, or of calling upon the gods to witness a marriage 
which is being celebrated in their name. As soon as 
he has ended his prayer, all present join their blessings 
to his own, carefully blending with them all the 
formulas considered infallible in averting the evil eye 
and all the malignant influences from the young couple 
which too profuse compliments never fail to attract 
towards those who receive them. 

However, the scribe, who has carefully watched the 
scene to see that everything is done correctly, now 
commences to' write upon a clay tablet the formal 
marriage contract. The terms- are very simple and 
clear : * Iddina has spoken to Soula'i, saying, " Give 
thy daughter Bilitsounou in marriage to my son 
Zamamanadin." Soula'i has consented, and has given 
his daughter Bilitsounou one mana of silver and three 
servants — Latoubaranou, Illasillabitiniziz, and Taslimou 
— as well as a set of furniture and a field of eight 
canes, as a dowry from Bilitsounou to Zamamanadin. 
He has remitted to Zamamanadin, as a guarantee of 
the mana of silver, which he will pay by-and-by, his 
servant Nanakishirat, who is worth two-thirds of a 


man a, and he adds nothing as security for the other 
third of a mana still due ; when he pays the mana of 
silver, Nanakishirat will be restored to him.' The 
witnesses place a nail-mark or a seal upon the tablet. 
The bride's grandmother, the lady Etillitou, wishing 
to prove the satisfaction the marriage has given her, 
adds two slaves to the three which Soula'i has bestowed 
upon his daughter, and this gift forms the substance of 
a supplementary deed drawn up in the same fashion as 
the first. ' The lady Etillitou gives, of her own free 
will, to the lady Bilitsounou, the daughter of Soulai', 
her eldest son — Banitloumour and Bazit, her two ser- 
vants, in addition to the three servants which Soulai, 
her father, has given to her. If any one should make a 
claim to revoke this gift, may Merodach and Zirpanitum 
decree his ruin ; may Nebo, the scribe of Esaggil, cut 
short his future days.' * f 

The prayer which follows the binding of the hands 
has invoked the blessings of heaven upon the union of 
the two young people ; by it, and by it alone, is religion 
blended with marriage. As soon as the reading of the 
contract is over, Soulai commands that tables should be 
brought in, and he invites the guests to eat and drink 
with him. The remainder of the day is passed in 
banquets and amusements — dancers, singers, players 
upon the harp and upon the flute, jugglers who per- 
form feats of strength, story-tellers who relate fables 
or merry tales. The house, usually so closely shut, is 
freely opened to-day, and offers its hospitality to who- 
ever will accept it ; the whole neighbourhood comes to 
congratulate the parents of the bride and bridegroom, 
and to share in the rejoicings. Evening arrives, and 
now Bilitsounou must leave her father's house for ever. 
She weeps, clings to her mother, and delays the time 
of starting, as every well-bred girl should do. At last 
she leaves, on foot, surrounded by her companions, and 

* These contracts are authentic ; I have only modified a few 
names and a few details to brin^ them into harmony with each 
other, and with the general tenor of my narrative. 


advances b}^ torchlight, to the sound of those piercing 
cries by which women habitually show their joy upon 
important occasions. A crowd assembles to see the 
procession pass, with its musicians and jesters, its train 
of slaves, furniture and chests preceding the bride. 
Zamamanadin waits for her in the midst of his grooms- 
men, and welcomes her upon the threshold of the house. 
The festival recommences — wine, banquet, musicians — 
and it continues even after the young couple have 
retired to the harem. 

The rejoicings are prolonged for several days more ; 
then life resumes its usual course in the two houses. 
Bilitsounou is soon accustomed to her new life, and 
Noubtu congratulates herself upon her choice. The 
bride is a true type of the virtuous women, whom the 
wise of all count lies delight to praise. ' The heart of 
her husband trusteth in her, and he shall have no lack 
of gain. She doeth him good and not evil all the days 
of her life. She seeketh wool and flax, and Avorketh 
willingly with her hands. She riseth also whilst it is 
yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and their 
task to her maidens. Her lamp goeth not out by 
night. She layeth her hands to the distaff, and her 
palms hold the spindle. She spreadeth out her hand 
to the poor, yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the 
needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household, 
for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She 
maketh for her-self cushions of tapestry, her clothing is 
fine linen and purple. She openeth her mouth witH 
wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and 
eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children rise up 
and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praiseth 
her, saying : Many daughters have done virtuously, but 
thou excellest them all.'* 

* Prov. xxxi. Since this description represents the ideal, not of 
Jewish women only, but of Oriental women in general, I have allowed 
myself to adapt it to an Assyrian. 



Man and his protecting deity— Prayer to the protecting deity against 
disease — The god Headache — The exorcist : exorcism to drive 
away the god Headache — Consultation in the public square — 
Death and burial — The destiny of the soul after death — The 
Chaldean tomb — Allat and Hell— The soul received amongst the 

A few weeks have passed since the marriage. Iddina 
insensibly falls into a languid, melancholy condition, 
for which there is apparently no reason. Every man at 
his birth is placed under the protection of a god and 
goddess, whose servant, and almost son, he then be- 
comes, whom he always speaks of as his god and 
goddess, without any further designation. The deity 
watches over his protege by night and by day, less to 
defend him against visible dangers, than to preserve 
him from the invisible beings which perpetually roam 
amongst men and assail them from all sides. If the 
man be pious, devout towards his god and towards the 
divinities of his country, if he celebrates the prescribed 
rites, recites the prayers, offers the sacrifices — in a 
word, if he be righteous — then the divine aid will never 
fail him ; the gods will grant him numerous descen- 
dants, a happy old age, many days before the moment 
decreed by destiny when he must resign himself to 
leave the light. If, on the other hand, he be impious, 
violent, unfaithful, ' his god will break him like a reed,' 
will destroy his posterity, shorten his days, and de- 
liver him to the demons which glide into his body and 
torment him with disease before he dies, Iddina asks 


himself what unknown crime can he have committed 
that his god appears to withdraw from him. He invokes 
the goddess Ishtar, and describes the malady which 
preys upon him. ' My days are passed in sighing, my 
night in weeping, the months are a torment unto me, 
my year is a perpetual cry ; all my strength is chained 
in my body, my feet stumble and fail as though they 
were loaded with chains ; I lie down roaring like a 
bull, I bleat like a sheep in my distress. . . . And no 
god has come to mine aid, no hand has been stretched 
forth to help me ; no god has had pity upon me, no 
goddess has come near to me to help me.' 

Assyria, unlike Egypt, has no sacred school of 
medicine where the rational diagnosis and treatment 
of complicated diseases is taught. It only produces 
sorcerers or exorcists, skilful in casting out the demons 
in possession, whose presence in a living body is the 
sole cause of disorder and death. The general appear- 
ance of the patient, the manner in which he bears the 
crisis, the words he utters in delirium are to these 
clever individuals so many signs which reveal the 
nature and sometimes even the name of the enemy 
they have to contend with. The most terrible of these 
evil spirits are called fever and pestilence ; fortunately, 
Iddina's symptoms do not point to these dread visitors. 
He passes the greater part of each night in a pro- 
found slumber, from which he awakens at intervals, 
the mind disturbed, the eyes swollen, with a singing in 
the ears, and a noise like hammers beating in his brain. 
It is the god Headache that possesses him, and the 
sorcerers prepare to drive him away. The formulas 
used against him are very ancient : they come from 
Chaldea, and are preserved in some old books, written 
in such mysterious language and characters that only a 
very few learned men can understand them. The 
magician whom Noubta summons to her husband 
brings with him some of the most efficacious charms 
against the malady described to him. He carefully 


examines the patient's eyes and face, inquires about 
the commencement of the illness, and the various 
phases through which it has passed, then declares that 
the case is more serious than he had supposed. Iddina 
is the victim of witchcraft, practised by some one whom 
he has offended, and who is taking revenge by slowly 
killing him with fire. The imprecation which some 
magician has pronounced against him pursues him 
continually ; it will kill him if the effects cannot be 
averted by a counter-spell which will induce Hea, the 
supreme god, and Merodach to use their great power 
in his service. 

Medical exorcisms are religious ceremonials, which 
should be celebrated within the precincts of a temple. 
Since Iddina is already weakened by the days of 
suffering which he has borne, the magician consents to 
attend to him in his own house. Tie, therefore, arrives 
with his books, a packet of herbs, which he has care- 
fully gathered himself, and the necessary objects for 
preparing a charm. He takes off his shoes, purifies 
himself, and, entering the sick-room, lights a fire upon 
the ground of herbs and aromatic plants, which burn 
with a clear, almost smokeless, flame. The first part 
of the charm, which he recites, describes the enchant- 
ment from which his patient suffers. ' The impreca- 
tion/ he says, in a firm rhythmical voice, ' the impre- 
cation, like a demon, has fallen upon the man ; the 
voice of the magician has fallen upon him like a 
scourge ; the malignant voice has fallen upon him, the 
noxious imprecation, the sorcery, the headache. The 
mischievous imprecation is slaying this man like a 
lamb, for his protecting god is withdrawn from his 
body, his protecting goddess has left him, and the 
voice which scourges him has spread itself over him 
like a garment, and paralyses him.' The evil which 
the magician has wrought is terrible, but the gods can 
still repair it, and already Merodach is aroused, Mero- 
dach has looked upon the patient, Merodach has entered 


the house of his father, Hea, saying, ' my father ! 
the malignant imprecation has fallen upon the man like 
a demon.' Twice he speaks to him and says, ' I do not 
know what this man should do, or what will cure him/ 
Hea replies to his son, Merodach : ' My son, what is 
unknown to thee, and what can I tell thee that 
thou knowest not already ? All that I know, thou 
knowest also ; go, then, my son, Merodach, lead the 
man to the purifying bath, and drive away the sorcery 
which is over him ; drive away the witchcraft, the ill 
that tortures his body, whether it be caused by the 
curse of his father, or the curse of his mother, or the 
curse of his eldest brother, or the pernicious curse of 
a stranger ! Let this malediction be removed by the 
charm of Hea, like a clove of garlic, being peeled, or a 
date, being cut in pieces, or a branch covered with 
flowers which is torn away ! The witchcraft, oh, 
heavenly double conjure it! oh, double of the earth, 
conjure it !* The gods arm themselves in favour of 
the patient, and Ilea, the sovereign of the world, deigns 
to indicate the remedy. Let the invalid take succes- 
sively a clove of garlic, a date, and a branch covered 
with flowers, and throw them into the fire piece by 
piece, as he recites an incantation ; however strong the 
malediction may be, its effects will be destroyed. 

However, Iddina has purified himself according to 
Ilea's command ; he has washed his feet, hands, and 
face, and has sprinkled his body with perfumed water. 
These preliminaries ended, the magician places himself 
in front of the brazier with the patient, peels the clove 
of garlic, which the god demands, and burns it, mur- 
muring the formula, ' Even as this garlic is peeled and 
thrown into the fire, the flame consumes it, it will 
never be planted in the garden, it will never be re- 
freshed by the water of a pool or of a trench, its roots 
will never penetrate the earth again, its stalk will 

* Double is here used in the sense given it by the Egyptologists 
(see p. 43). 


not grow or see the sun again, it will never serve as 
food for the gods or for the king ; even so may Mero- 
dach, the general of the gods, drive this witchcraft far 
from Iddina, and loosen the power of the devouring 
evil, of the sin, of the fault, of the perversity, of the 
crime.' And Iddina repeats after him, in a faltering 
voice : ' The disease, which is in my body, in my flesh, 
in my muscles, may it be cast off like this clove of 
garlic, and consumed in one day by the devouring 
flame ; may the witchcraft depart, that I may still see 
the light for many days to come/ The magician then 
cuts the date into small pieces, and whilst it burns he 
resumes his monotonous chant : ' Even as the date is 
cut up and thrown into the fire, the ardent flame con- 
sumes it, he who gathered it can never replace it upon 
its stalk, it will never be served at the king's table ; 
even so may Merodach, the general of the gods, drive 
the witchcraft far from Iddina and break the power of 
the devouring evil, of the sin, of the fault, of the per- 
versity of the crime.' And again Iddina repeats : 
' The disease which is in my body, in my flesh, in my 
muscles, may it be cut like this date and consumed this 
day by the devouring flame ; may the witchcraft depart, 
that I may still see the light for many days to come/ 

The ceremony is prolonged, and the fire successively 
consumes the branch of flowers, a flock of wool, some 
goat's hair, a skein of dyed thread, and a bean. Each 
time the magician repeats the formula, introducing 
two or three words that characterise the nature of the 
offering : the leaves of the branch can never be 
reunited to the tree, nor used for the dyer's work ; 
the wool and the hair can never return to the animals 
that wore them, nor be used for making cloth. 
Iddina keeps up to the end, in spite of his weakness ; 
but as soon as the last words are uttered, he falls 
back exhausted upon his bed and nearly faints. The 
swoon of a patient is regarded as a good omen in these 
cases ; it proves that the charm is working. The 


struggle taking place in the body between the benevo- 
lent gods and the evil spirit is always so great that few 
men can bear the reaction without suffering from it. The 
sick man becomes excited, he trembles all over, utters 
groans or lamentable cries, rolls upon the ground with 
so much force that it is difficult to restrain him ; great 
prostration succeeds to this attack, marking the tem- 
porary victory of the sick man over his disease. The 
magician then recites a final incantation, in which he 
once more invokes Ilea, Merodach, and lastly, the god 
of fire, who has so kindly lent his aid to the rites of the 
exorcism : ' O fire ! powerful lord, who exaltest thyself 
in the land ! hero, son of the abyss, who art exalted 
in the land ! O god of fire ! by thy sacred flame thou 
hast established the light in the house of darkness ! 
Thou determinest the destiny of everything that has a 
name, thou blendest copper and tin by thine heat, 
thou refinest silver and gold, thou makest the wicked 
to tremble in the night. Grant that the limbs of this 
man, who has once more become the son of his god, may 
shine with purity, that he may be pure as the heaven, 
brilliant as upon the earth, that he may shine as the 
centre of heaven, and that the malignant tongue which 
had enchanted him may lose all its power over him.' 

Two days pass by, yet the exorcism, although re- 
pealed night and morning, does not produce any beneficial 
effect, it only seems to increase the patient's weakness. 
Iddina does not become ' the son of his god again ; ' 
it would rather seem that his god departs from him, 
and delivers him to death without further resistance, 
An old custom still exists in Babylon of carrying the 
sick to the public square, and there exposing them to 
the gaze of the passers-by. The latter draw near, ask 
the symptoms, the means used to decrease the malady. 
If they have had, or still have, any one amongst their 
relations suffering from the same ailment, they describe 
the remedies that have cured them. This practice is 
also common in Assyria, like many other Chaldean 
usages, and Noubta at last resolves to try it. She 


wraps Iddina in his woollen coverings, places him upon 
a bed, and two slaves gently carry him to the gate of 
Ishtar. The judges are sitting there, all the idle men 
of the district are assembled in the front court, peasants 
and foreigners are coming in and out of the city ; if 
there be any chance of obtaining competent advice, it- 
must be there sooner than anywhere else. 

The sight of Iddina rouses various feelings in the 
crowd. Several fear that the illness is infectious, and 
that the demon in possession may be tempted to leave 
the patient and throw himself upon them ; others feel 
more curiosity than fear or sympathy ; friends sorrow- 
fully dwell upon his changed appearance, and murmur 
to each other sad reflections upon the instability of life. 
The officious crowd round the bed, question, exchange 
conjectures, and propose remedies to which the family 
listen anxiously. ' The exorcisms have failed ? Which 
were they ? Has the incantation of the seven demons 
been recited ? Has the charm of Eridou been tried Y 
Take the w r ool of a young sheep, and let a sorceress — a 
sorceress, not a sorcerer — bind it upon the temples of 
the sick man, to the right and left. The knot must be 
tied seven times running, seven different times ; a coid 
must then be tied round the patient's head, another 
round his neck, another round each of the limbs, in 
order to chain his soul if it wish to escape, then the 
magic waters should be poured upon him.' Another 
declares that he has been cured by magic ; an earthen 
figure of himself was made, then a libation of wine wa« 
poured over it, a charm was recited, and the malady 
disappeared. Or you can mix six different kinds oi 
wood, pound them with a piece of serpent, add some 
w4ne and some raw meat, then form a paste of the 
mixture, and let the patient swallow it. This recipe is 
infallible ; it is found in an old and highly esteemed 
book that King Assurbanipal has had copied for his 
personal use. The open air, the sun, the noise at first 
revived Iddina, but now they oppress him and add to 


his exhaustion. When he reaches home, he falls into 
a profound stupor, from which neither exorcisms, nor 
remedies, nor the despairing appeals of his wife and 
children can rouse him. Two more days, a slight 
rattle in the throat, some shivers, a few convulsive 
movements of the limbs show that life is not quite 
extinct ; but on the evening of the third day, a little 
before sunset, he yields his last breath, and Shed, the 
god of death, takes possession of him for ever. 

The peoples of the Tigris and Euphrates resemble 
the Egyptians in their noisy and disorderly expressions 
of grief. As soon as a man dies his relations and con- 
nexions, particularly the women, rend their garments, 
scratch their cheeks and chest, cover their head with 
dust and ashes, and utter loud howls of sorrow, which 
disturb the whole neighbourhood and force it to 
share in their mourning. But if the external marks 
of grief are similar, the method of treating the corpse 
is quite different. The Assyrians certainly believe 
that the life of man is prolonged beyond this world ; 
they know that one part only of the elements which 
compose it dies upon this earth — the other continues to 
exist beyond it, if not for ever; at least for some time 
to come. However, they do not share the Egyptian belief 
that the immortality of the soul is indissolubly linked with 
that of the boiy, and that, after death, it perishes if the 
flesh, which it inhabited, is allowed to decay. In the 
Assyrian creed, the soul is certainly not indifferent to the 
fate of the body it has quitted ; the pain it feels at death 
and the discomforts of its new state are increased if the 
corpse is burnt, mutilated, or left unburied as food for 
the birds of prey. Nevertheless, this sentiment is not 
carried so far as to lead the Assyrians to feel the same 
necessity for escaping corruption that induces the 
Egyptians to transform themselves into mummies. The 
corpse is not subjected to the injections, repeated baths 
in preserving fluids, and laborious bandaging which 
render it indestructible : it is perfumed, hastily dressed, 


and buried as soon as a change takes place in it, only a 
few hours after life is extinct. 

Whilst the family weep and lament, some old wo- 
men wash the body of Iddina, anoint it with scented 
oil, wrap it in a state robe, rouge the cheeks and 
blacken the edges of the eyelids, place a collar round 
the neck and rings upon the fingers, fold the arms 
over the breast, then lay the corpse upon the bed, with 
an altar at the bed-head, where the usual offerings of 
water, incense, and cakes are prepared. The evil 
spirits always hover round the dead, either to feed 
upon the body or to use it for their witchcraft ; if they 
glide into a dead man at this time he may be trans- 
formed into a vampire, and return later on to suck the 
blood of the living. The family, therefore, by their 
prayers invite benevolent genii and the gods to watch 
over him. Two of them, although invisible, stand at the 
head and the foot of the bed, and stretch a hand over 
him to bless him (Fig. 125). These are the forms of 
Hea, and, like Hea, they are clothed in fish- skins. 
Three others take their stand in the mortuary chamber, 
ready to strike any one who attempts to enter it ; one 
of them has a human head, the others have a lion's 
head upon a human body. Others, again, hover above 
the house in order to repulse the spectres who try to 
penetrate through the roof. 80 that, during the last 
hours which the corpse passes upon earth, it is care- 
fully guarded by a legion of gods. 

The funeral procession leaves the house early in the 
morning. The dead man is laid upon a bed carried 
by several men. It is preceded and followed by a 
group of hired mourners and musicians; then come the 
relations in their sacks of coarse dark material, very 
narrow and without any folds ; then the friends^ ac- 
quaintances, and people from the district who wish to 
pay the last respect to their neighbour. The cries used 
are the same as in Egypt, the same exclamations break 
the silence : ' Alas, Iddina ! Alas, my lord ! Alas, mv 


father ! ' In the intervals the friends exchange com- 
ments upon the vanity of human things, which, under 
the same circumstances, always furnishes an inexhaus- 
tible subject of conversation to the survivors. ' It is 
the same with us all ! The day of death is unknown 
to us all. Thus goes the world : he was alive in the 
evening, and in the morning he died at daybreak ! ' 
The procession slowly leaves the town, and proceeds 
towards one of the cemeteries where the people of Dur- 
Sarginu rest. No one must seek in Assyria for monu- 
mental hypogea or pyramids like those of Egypt. 
There are no mountains running to right and left of 
the stream, of stone soft enough for galleries or funeral 
rooms to be hewn out of them, or hard enough to pre- 
vent the chambers, once hewn, from crumbling upon 
themselves. Nineveh and the majority of the great 
cities of Assyria and Chaldea are surrounded by large, 
low plains, where all that is buried quickly decomposes 
under the influence of the heat and damp ; vaults dug 
in the soil would be soon invaded by the water in spite 
of masonry, the paintings and sculptures would be spoilt 
by the nitre, the objects of furniture and coffins de- 
stroyed. The house of the Assyrian dead could not, 
therefore, be dike that of the Egyptian, a house for 

Yet he dwells there, and his soul with him. An 
attempt is made at the time he leaves our world to 
give him the food, clothes, ornaments, and utensils which 
he may require in the next. Well treated by his children 
or heirs, he protects them as well as he can, and wards 
off evil influences from them. When they abandon 
and forget him, he avenges himself by returning to 
torment them in their homes ; he brings illness upon 
them, and crushes them by his curse. If through an 
accident he remained unburied, he would become dan- 
gerous, not onl} T to his own family, but to the whole 
country. The dead, unable to procure for themselves 
the necessities of an honest life, are pitiless for each 

sT*«-«M C»iT'e.V_ 


Fig. 125.— Death and Hell. In the centre the dead man lies upon his 
funeral bed, watched by the gods ; hell and its divinities are in 
the lower division. 



other ; if any one goes amongst them without a tomb, 
without libations or offerings, they will not receive 
him, and will not give him even an alms of bread out 
of their scanty provisions. The spirit of the unburied 
corpse, having neither dwelling nor means of subsistence, 
wanders through the cities and the towns, and supports 
himself by rapine and the crimes he commits against 
the living. He glides into the houses during the night, 
reveals himself to the inhabitants under horrible dis- 
guises, and terrifies them. Always on the watch, as 
soon as he surprises a victim he springs upon him, 
' the head against his head, the hand against his hand, 
the foot against his foot.' The individual thus attacked, 


Fig. 126.— Chaldean Coffin in Baked Eaith. 

whether man or beast, will never escape from him, 
unless magic can furnish some very powerful weapons 
of resistance against him ; the vampire figures by the 
side of spectres and ghouls amongst the demons, whose 
fury is averted by invoking the doubles of heaven and 
of earth. 

The most ancient Chaldeans constructed their tombs 
in brick, like their homes and palaces. They were 
large vaults arched with corbels, in which one or more 
persons could be buried at once. They also used simple 
pots of baked earth, in which the corpse was placed, 
or two long cylindrical jars, in which it lay at full 
length, and which was closed with bitumen (Fig. 126). 
Sometimes the tombs were small round or oval build- 
ings, raised upon a clump of bricks, and covered with 



a dome or a flat roof (Fig. 127). The house was not 
large, and occasionally the inhabitant could hardly 
enter it, unless he were bent almost double. In the 
smallest of them he had only his clothes, jewels, bronze 
arrows, and a vase of copper or metal. Others con- 
tained a set of furniture, less complete than those with 
which the Egyptians encumbered their hypogea, but 
sufficient for the requirements of a spirit. The body 
was extended, fully dressed, upon a mat impregnated 
with bitumen, the head leaning upon a cushion or 

Fig. 127.— Round Chaldean Tomb. 

against a flat brick, the hands laid upon the breast, 
the shroud kept in place by straps round the legs and 
ankles. Sometimes the dead man was laid upon the 
left side, the legs slightly bent, the right hand thrown 
over the left shoulder and plunged in a vase as though 
he wished to take it and raise it to his mouth. Clay jars 
and dishes were placed round him containing the daily 
food and drink, the wine which he preferred, some 
dates, fish, fowls, and game, even a boar's head, and, 
as in Egypt, offerings in stone, which replaced real 
offerings, and lasted longer (Fig. 128). The man 
carried his weapons as well as his provisions — a lance, 



some javelins, his state walking- cane, the cylinder 
with which he sealed his deeds during his lifetime. 
By the side of a woman were placed ornaments and 
spare jewels, flowers, vials of perfume, combs, rouge- 
needles, and cakes of the black paste with which she 
darkened her eyelashes and eyebrows. 

The tombs, placed one against the other, were 
covered with sand or ashes in the course of years ; 
then, later on, the site was used for new tombs, so 
that at last, in Ourouk and many parts of Chaldea, 

128. — Interior of a Chaldean Tomb. 

they have formed mounds, which increase and con- 
tinue rising day by day. They are less crowded in 
Assyria, and less solidly built, so that they quickly 
disappear without leaving any trace above the ground, 
and whoever seeks for them must disturb a great deal 
of earth before he finds what remains. The monu- 
ments of the kings' only are still recognised. It is 
said that the royal palace contains the tomb of Nimrod, 
the fabulous founder of the city and empire.* The 

* Ctesias relates that Semiramis had buried Nimrod in the interior 
of the palace of Nineveh. The tradition which he quotes is certainly 
older than the epoch at which he wrote, and I have not felt that I 
ventured too much in carrying it back to the time of the Sargonides. 


storied tower is built over it, and distinguishes its site 
from afar off. It is possible that the popular tradition 
is right on this point, as upon many others which it 
asserts, although its testimony is scarcely credited. 
For instance, it is known that the majority of the 
kings repose in the cities where they resided, under 
the protection of the gods of the city. The Babylonian 
chroniclers carefully register, behind the name of each 
prince, the name of the palace in which he was buried ; 
and as to the sovereigns of Assyria, the old Ninevites 
still remember the fetes which Sennacherib gave in 
their honour when he restored their tombs, which had 
been half destroyed during the wars and the revolu- 
tions of the preceding century. 

No one now believes that the small case of baked 
earth in which the body reposes will be the eternal 
dwelling of the soul. It is supposed that far from us, 
some say beneath the earth, others at the oriental or 
southern extremities of the universe, there is a gloomy 
country, where all those who still exist of the past 
generations live together under the rule of the god 
Nergal and the goddess Allat. A river ends there 
which flows from the primitive waters of the ocean, 
in the midst of which our world is plunged. It is 
surrounded by seven walls and closed by seven doors, 
guarded by an inexorable porter. The shades can 
only enter it with an order from the goddess. They 
are immediately deprived of all that they brought with 
them, and are led naked before Allat, who judges 
them and assigns to them their place in her realm. 
Those who displease her are subjected to frightful 
tortures ; they endure hunger and thirst, leprosy preys 
upon them for ever, all the diseases attack and devour 
them without killing them. Those who escape these 
agonies drag out a gloomy, joyless existence. They 
are hungry and thirsty, yet they have nothing but 
rubbish and dust to eat and drink. They are cold, 
and are only given one garment of feathers, the great 


dark wings of the birds of night, upon which they 
perpetually flutter to and fro, uttering plaintive cries. 
Once admitted to this dismal realm they never leave it, 
unless sent by special order from the gods above to 
terrify and torment the living. They have no re- 
collection of their life upon earth. Family, friend- 
ship, gratitude for services rendered, all are for ever 
effaced from their memory ; they only retain an 
immense regret that they have left the light, and a 
great desire to return to it. Allat could satisfy them 
if she liked. The threshold of her palace is built over 
a spring; the waters which flow from it restore life. to 
those who bat lie in or drink of them. They spring 
forth as soon as the stone is raised which imprisons 
them. But the spirits of the earth, the Anunaki, watch 
over them with jealous care. 'They are seven, they 
are seven, in the hollow of the abyss they are seven; 
they are neither males nor females, but are as the 
torrents which are poured out ; they take no wife, 
they have no children, they know neither pity nor 
benevolence ; they do not listen to prayer or supplica- 
tion ; they increase the discord in the mountains ; 
they are the enemies of Hea, the messengers of death, 
and the agents of Allat.' Sometimes they scatter over 
the earth in the form of poisonous winds and raise a 
storm, sometimes they press into the battle-field and 
mercilessly cut down the heroes. Hea only is powerful 
enough to wrest a few drops of the life-giving water 
from them ; but even then they give it reluctantly 
and with many protestations against the will of the 
supreme god. 

This wild, gloomy conception of life, in common 
with others in a single kingdom, is still worse than the 
idea of prolonged existence in the tomb to which it has 
succeeded. In the tomb, at least, the soul was alone 
with the body to which it had been linked ; in the 
house of Allat it is lost in the midst of the genii which 
issue from the night. It is surrounded by those for- 


midable shapes which, scarcely defined in dreams, have 
already persecuted it upon the earth. None of these 
demons have a simple face in any way resembling 
humanity, but they present a mixture of man with 
animals, of animals together, in which the most re- 
pulsive features of each species are artistically com- 
bined. A lion's head stands upon a jackal's body, 
with eagle's claws and a scorpion's tail, and the 
creature is always roaring, howling, hissing, demand- 
ing rebellious souls to torture or destroy. The leaders 
of these monsters, the servants of Allat, are called 
pestilence, fever, the south-west wind. Allat herself 
is, perhaps, more hideous than the people over whom 
she reigns. She has a woman's body, clothed with 
hair and ill-proportioned, a grimacing lion's head, with 
the wings and claws of a bird of prey. In each hand 
she brandishes a large serpent, an animated javelin, 
which unmercifully bites and poisons the enemy. Her 
two children are lions' cubs, which she nurses herself. 
She travels through her empire, not riding upon a 
horse, but standing or kneeling upon it, so that she 
crushes it by her weight. Sometimes she goes and 
personally explores the river which flows from the 
world of the living ; she then embarks with her horse 
upon a fairy boat, which moves without sail or oar. 
Its prow is terminated by a bird's beak, the poop by a 
bull's head (Fig. 125). Nothing can escape from her, 
nothing resist her ; even the gods cannot enter her 
kingdom without dying like men and humbly owning 
themselves to be her slaves.. 

At last, however, a time came when the human 
conscience revolted against this savage dogma, which 
condemned all mankind to perpetual misery in utter 
darkness. What ! kings who were good and kind to 
their people, heroes who destroyed monsters, soldiers 
who unhesitatingly sacrificed their lives on the field of 
battle, are to perish in the same obscurity as tyrants, 
slaves, and cowards ? Their power, their courage, their 


virtues could only shorten their sojourn in our world 
of light, and precipitate them to the bottom of hell 
before their time ! It was then believed that the gods, 
separating them from the crowd, welcomed them into a 
fertile island lightened by the sun, and separated from 
our world by the unfordable river which leads to hell. 
There grows the tree and flows the river of life ; some 
privileged men occasionally enter it before death and 
return with their youthful health and strength restored 
to them. At first this happy land was placed in the 
marches of the Euphrates, towards the mouth of the 
river ; later on, when the country was better known, 
beyond the sea. Then, as the discoveries of the mer- 
chants or the wars of the conquerors enlarged the 
limits of the horizon in which the first Chaldeans had 
confined themselves, the mysterious island receded 
further and further towards the west, then towards the 
north, and finally almost disappeared in the far dis- 
tance. At last the gods of heaven became hospitable, 
and received heroic souls into their own kingdom upon 
the summit of the Mountain of the World. 

This mountain occupies the southern region of the 
universe ; one side of the starry firmament leans upon 
its summit; the sun escapes from its eastern flanks 
every morning to return to it on the west. When a 
hero dies his spirit rises from the earth like a cloud 
of dust driven before the wind ; as soon as it reaches 
the region of clouds the gods hasten to meet it, and 
greet it like one of themselves. ' Come,' they say, 
' wash thine hands, purify thine hands ; the gods, 
thine elders, will wash their hands and purify their 
hands with thee/ to take their share in the banquet of 
immortality. And now, ' eat pure food from pure 
dishes, drink pure water from pure cups, prepare to 
enjoy the peace of the righteous.' Hea himself, the 
sovereign of the gods, deigns to assign a place for his 
guest in the sacred domains, and transfers him to it 
with his own hands ; he gives him honey and fat, and 
pours the water of life into his mouth ; with it he 


regains the power of speech of which death had de- 
prived him. Yet, as he reposes upon a luxurious bed, 
he can look down upon the earth and all its miseries. 
At first the privilege of the heroes, this future exis- 
tence has now become the general inheritance. Hence- 
forth a man has only to live well upon earth — and by 
living well I mean to be devout towards the gods, 
regular in the celebration of their festivals, oflering 
to them man} r prayers and gifts — and he will receive 
a welcome on the other side of the tomb. Merodach 
and his wife, Zirpanitum, will 'make him live again ;' 
he will go, come, speak, eat, drink as he likes, enjoy 
the sun and the light. The kingdom of Allat now 
contains only the past general ions, those who have 
lived and died in the earliest ages of (lie world. They 
are still there in the shadow, standing round the 
thrones upon which the ancient kings are seated round 
Ner, Etana, and all the old prediluvian heroes. The 
men of the present day are more fortunate. The years 
which they pass amongst us are no longer darkened 
like those of their ancestors by the ever-present image 
of eternal night. Piety will render them worthy of 
heaven, repentance will blot out their sins, and the 
gods will receive them into their own dwellings. 

The tomb of Iddina is provided with food and 
furniture. This is more from respect for the ancient 
rites, than from any belief in the ideas which they 
formerly expressed. No doubt many of the people, 
and even many of the higher classes, still imagine that 
the soul dwells near the corpse and regales itself upon 
the food lavished upon the dead. But Iddina' s rela- 
tions do not share the popular creed. They know that 
the soul of their beloved one has flown to heaven 
during the funeral. They feel sure that the benevolent 
gods have protected its flight and preserved it from 
the malignant demons. When they shall also leave 
this earth they hope to meet it upon the summit 
of the Mountain of the World, amongst the * silver 



Assurbanipal : his taste for pleasures and the chase — The state of 
affairs in Elam : the nephews of King Teumman take refuge in 
Assyria — The start for the lion hunt : the gazelles, stags, the 
wild asses — Crossing the river — The camp, the royal tent — The 
auroch and the auroch hunt — The sacrifice upon the return from 
the chase — The lion of Assyria and lion-hunting in the marshes — 
Hunting the captive lion in the royal parks — An embassy from 

Assurbanipal was young when he ascended the throne. 
He was not yet thirty years old when Esarhaddon, his 
father, chose him from amongst his sons, and proclaimed 
him as his successor at Nineveh in the presence of the 
nobles and of the army : the following year he became 
king. He is tall, vigorous, and well made ; his face is 
wide, the eyes are boldly opened, the nose straight, the 
mouth hard and proud, the hair long and wavy. His 
predecessors were passionately fond of war and of con- 
quest ; they lived, and sometimes, like Esarhaddon, 
they died in camp. Assurbanipal does not care to put 
himself into harness. He usually leaves to his generals 
the management of all military operations, and as they 
have been trained in a good school, the affairs of the 
country do not suffer. It is not that he is incapable of 
commanding and fighting like any one else, if neces- 
sary, but he is naturally indolent, voluptuous, devout, 
fond of luxury and the arts, still a bold rider and 
mighty hunter before the gods. 

He has come to Dur-Sarginu for some weeks, hoping 
to escape the annoyances of politics, but in vain ; at 
Dur-Sarginu, as at Nineveh, his position as king weighs 


heavily upon him. The messengers that arrive morning 
and evening from all parts of his empire always dis- 
turb his rest and spoil his pleasures by their news. 
Babylon is moving secretly ; the Urartu are stirring 
and threatening the northern frontier ; Egypt is always 
intriguing and privately stirring up the small princes 
of Judea, of Moab, and the Philistines ; the Cimmerians, 
vanquished by Ardys, son of Gyges, and by his Lydians, 
appear likely to invade Cilicia ; the Medes have killed 
one of their chieftains who was devoted to Assyria, 
and have replaced him by one of his cousins, whose 
hostility is manifest ; Elam is arming openly, and the 
king is only waiting for a pretext to enter upon a 
campaign. Teumman is a ' devil incarnate/ whose 
cruehy and pride are unlimited. He had scarcely as- 
cended the throne when he wished to seize and murder 
the children of his brothers Urtaki and Ummanaldash, 
who had reigned before him. Warned by some faithful 
friends, they fled with their servants, and large bands 
of the Elamites accompanied them to Assyria. Assur- 
banipal welcomed them kindly, partly through natural 
generosity, but greatly through interest. These young 
men with barbarous names and uncouth speech — 
Ummanigas, Ummanappa, Tammaritu, Kudourru, Paru 
— are the legitimate heirs to the Susian throne; they 
still have numerous partisans in the country who would 
certainly revolt if they were supported, and who, in 
case of war, would probably cause a diversion, which 
would be greatly in favour of the Assyrian army. In 
the meantime Assurbanipal receives them with the 
greatest hospitality, and treats them like princes of his 
own family rather than like strangers. He assigns to 
each of them houses, a suite, a sufficient income, and 
almost royal state ; he frequently invites them to his 
table, and to-morrow he will take them to hunt lions 
beyond the Zab, in the direction of the Median 

The lion is not found now in the vicinity of great 


cities, where they formerly abounded. They must be 
pursued far into the country ; and the hunting expe- 
ditions planned against them resemble an excursion 
into an enemy's territory rather than a hunting party. 
The king takes one part of his guard and starts at 
sunrise. Dur-Sarginu is surrounded by villas and 
gardens, watered by canals supplied by the Khosr. 
The procession, crowded between the walls which 
border the road, becomes elongated and seems inter- 
minable; however, the houses soon become more 
scattered, the clumps of trees Lighter, cultivation ceases, 
meadows commence, and the small army of sportsmen 
can easily deploy, as though in battle order. 

From thence to the banks of the Zab the ride is 
charming, the grass is abundant, and the sun warms 
the fields, whilst it does not yet scorch them. The 
undulating plain extends to the horizon, verdant and 
perfumed. The flowers are so thick in places, and so 
close to each other, that they might be taken for a 
coloured carpet spread over the ground; the dogs as 
they run amongst them become striped with yellow, 
pink, and blue. Every moment a frightened hare or a 
covey "t partridges rises almost under the horses' feet. 
The herds of gazelles and wild goats which graze in 
the distance become anxious ; they raise their heads, 
scent the wind, look on every side for one moment, 
then with a sudden movement scamper away and are 
lost in the horizon. These animals run so fast and so 
long that the swiftest hounds can rarely overtake them. 
However, a few greyhounds are slipped against them, 
and accidentally start a band of wild asses (Fig. 129). 
The wild ass is a very pretty animal, with grey, shining 
hair, and such rapid paces that it easily outstrips the 
horses. It utters a cry, gives a kick, and gallops out 
of range, then stops to see who comes ; as soon as the 
enemy approaches, it starts again, then stops, restarts, 
and continues the same manoeuvres without any 
fatigue as long as it is followed. Twenty horsemen 



start in pursuit, less in the hope of catching them than 
to breathe their horses and enjoy the pleasure of 
galloping across the fields. In returning they have the 

Fig. 129.— Hunting the Wild Ass. 

good luck to surprise a family of deer that were quietly 
feeding in a small hollow ; an old stag, pierced by two 
arrows, bravely turns upon the dogs, and his resist- 
ance gives the young fawns time to escape. 

Fig. 180. — Assurbanipal and his Suite. 

Assurbanipal never deigns to pause for such small 
game. He slowly drives across the plain, upright, 
impassive in his state chariot (Fig. 130). A large 
sunshade embroidered with red and blue shelters him 



from the sun. The coachman, who sits to the right, 
regulates the horses' steps so as to avoid jolting as 
much as possible ; two eunuchs, clinging to the side 
of the chariot with one hand, wave their large fly- 
flaps with the other. The chariots belonging to the 
Susian princes follow next, then those of the viziers, 
then a body of lancers on horseback ; pedestrians, the 
trains of dogs, the men in attendance, the mules laden 
with provisions or necessaries for the sport, close the 
line. The party halt for one hour in the middle of 
the day, and rest in an improvised camp in the even- 
ing near a torrent still swollen by the melting snows. 

Fig. 131. — The King crosses the Stream in a Boat, the Horses 

swim behind. 

On the morrow, towards sunset, it reaches the Zab 
almost unexpectedly, so completely is the river con- 
cealed by its deep banks, in the midst of this level 
plain where nothing betrays its presence. 

Messengers had been dispatched in advance, so 
that everything was prepared for the crossing. As- 
surbanipal and the Susian princes embark upon two 
boats. The riders crowd pell-mell into fishing barques. 
The horses swim over, held by the grooms or fastened 
to the boats (Fig. 131). The foot soldiers always 
carry a large empty skin. They inflate it (Fig. 132), 
tie up the opening, and throw themselves into the 




Fig. 132. — Foot Soldiers blowing out 
t 1 eir Swimming Skins. 

water with it. Half carried, half swimming, they soon 

cross a river without laying aside their weapons (Fig. 

133). In about half 

an hour the river is 

crossed. The camp 

is fixed a little fur- 
ther away, upon a 

dry, sandy spot, with 

sentinels and ad- 
vanced posts as in 

time of war. The 

majority of the 

troops hastily pitch 

tents or sleep in the 

open air as well as 

they can. A little 

dry wood, brought 

from Dur - Sarginu, 

some dried grass 

hastily collected in 

the vicinity, and in a few moments a fire is kindled. 

The saucepan soon boils under the watchful eye of a 

comrade, or of one of the women who accompany the 

soldiers, and all 
the men who are 
not on duty eat 
and drink at their 
ease, seated in 
groups of three 
or four. Each 
nobleman has his 
own tent pitched 
near to the royal 
pavilion. The 
latter is a kind of 
temporary palace 

of rather complicated construction. Ten posts are 

placed in the ground in two parallel lines, united at 

Fig. 133. — Crossing the Kiver upon the 
Swollen Skins. 



Fig. 134.— The Eoyal Tent. 

the top by cross-beams, and secured upon the outside 
by cords pegged to the ground, then over this frame- 
work pieces of coarse linen or bands of felt are 
stretched, closing the sides (Fig. 134). The space 

inside is a kind of flattened 
ellipsis. The central part, 
where the fire burns, re- 
mains unroofed, so that the 
smoke may escape easily. 
The two h?mi- cycles at the 
end are covered with half-= 
domes of linen or felt of 
unequal height, each sup- 
ported by a branched post. 
The door is placed at one 
end, beneath the smallest of the cupolas. The 
furniture is the same as in an ordinary house— a 
folding table with gazelles' feet, stools, an armchair, 
a complete bed. The vessels for eating and drinking 
are suspended to the branches of the post. Outside, 
an altar is erected to the 
gods, by the side of a 
stable in which the 
horses find provender 
and shelter against the 
night chills (Tig. 135). 
A herd of cattle, sheep, 
and goats, penned be- 
hind the stable, provide 
fresh milk and meat for 
the royal table night 
and morning. Assur- 
banipal is willing to risk 
his life, but he will not 
dispense with the comforts to which he has been 
accustomed from infancy. 

The huntsmen have not yet found any traces of lions, 
but they declare that at a little distance to the north- 

Fig. 135.— The Eoyal Stable. 


east they have seen some wild oxen. The auroch has be- 
come very rare during the last half-century. The kings 
of Assyria have so furiously hunted it that they have 
almost exterminated the species ; the specimens seen 
from time to time in the plain, either alone or in herds, 
descend by chance from the mountains of Media or 
Armenia. Assurbanipal receives the huntsmen's report 
with great pleasure, augmented by the fact that he has 
never had an opportunity of rivalling the prowess of 
his ancestors against the auroch : he takes counsel with 
some of the old officials, who had hunted with his 
grandfather, Sennacherib, in their youth, and arranges 
the details of his expedition for the morrow with as 
much zest as though he were planning a battle. The 
pleasure is greater, because the auroch can only be 
taken by a particular stratagem. He is not dreamy 
and gentle like the domestic ox ; but he is extremely 
large and strong, one of the fleetest and most cunning 
animals in creation, quite as suspicious at the approach 
of strangers as dangerous in attack. The hunters, 
therefore, divide into two bands. The first cautiously 
makes its way to the back of the troop and scatters as a 
semi-circle behind it ; then, suddenly rushing forward 
with loud cries, it drives the animals towards the spot 
where the king is posted. Assurbanipal has left his 
state chariot in the camp — it is too heavy and crowded 
with servants. He goes alone with his coachman in a 
war chariot, low and light, provided with a lance, bow, 
and quiver ; a horseman, armed with various weapons, 
leads a horse behind him by a rein. In fact, the chariot 
is not suitable for use at all times. It sticks fast in 
marshy soil, breaks against the stones, upsets over 
rough, uneven ground, or at least jolts so much that 
the soldier, shaken in his balance, cannot use his 
weapons ; the horse is, therefore, serviceable as a 
supplement to the chariot. , The oxen, disconcerted by 
the enemy's cries and by the sudden apparition, 
hesitate for a moment before moving. Then an 



enormous beast, of formidable appearance, lowers its 
bead, bellowing with rage, and rushes upon the nearest 
horseman so quickly that he has not time to avoid it ; 
the enormous creature raises beast and man with one 
blow from his horns, and throws them into the air as 
easily as if they were a bundle of hay, then crossing 
the line of the galloping horsemen, he flies towards 
the mountains, no one daring to follow his retreat. 
The remainder of the troop scamper off in a different 
direction, where the plain seems empty, and find them- 
selves in the midst of the hunters. In less time than 

Fig. 136. — The King kills the Auroch with his poignard. 

we can speak, three ot the bulls are rolling on the 
ground, pierced with several arrows ; the four others, 
but slightly wounded, turn short round and gallop 
towards the river. Assurbanipal follows the largest of 
them, which, he is almost sure, is wounded in the 
shoulder ; then gradually he overtakes it, skilfully 
drives his chariot beside it without checking speed, and, 
laying aside his bow, grasps one of the poignards he 
wears in his belt. With one hand he seizes one of the 
animaPs horns, with the other he plunges his weapon 
into his neck ; the short, wide blade divides the spine, 
between the neck and shoulder, the bull falls like a 



stone (Fig. 136). A flight of arrows arrests the 
fugitives before they can reach the water ; the whole 
herd is killed, except the old bull that escaped at first. 
The return to the camp is a triumphal march. As 
soon as the sentinels signal the arrival of the party, 
soldiers, slaves, women, all who are not bound by 
etiquette or military duty, hurry to meet it and form 
two lines, watching the procession. The sight of the 
seven bulls, each carried by five or six men, almost 
causes them to forget the respect due to royalty. They 
exclaim upon the size of the animals, the strength of 
their horns, the savage aspect given by their manes ; 
they praise their master's skill, and loudly thank the 

Fig. 137. — The King giving thanks to the goddess Ishtar for his sport. 

gods who have favoured him with such rare and terrible 
game. Assurbanipal has left his chariot in front of his 
tent, and now prepares to return thanks for his success to 
the lord Assur and the lady Ishtar of Arbela (Fig. 13? ). 
Two priests with their harps are waiting to commence the 
hymn of praise. The bearers place the aurochs on the 
ground and arrange them side by side in a single line. 
The king, accompanied by his fly-flap and sunshade- 
bearers, stands on the right, the bow in his left hand. 
He takes the cup full of sacramental wine, which. the 
vizier presents to him, touches it with his lips, then 
partly empties it over the victims whilst the musicians 
play. The same evening an eunuch will start for 


Nineveh to have the new exploit graven upon stone. The 
picture will display the departure, the chase, the death, 
the solemn entry, and an inscription placed above the 
last scene will tell posterity the name of the victor : 
' I, Assurbanipal, king of multitudes, king of Assyria, 
whose power is secured by Assur and Beltis, I have 
killed seven aurochs ; I have strung the mighty bow of 
Ishtar, queen of battles, against them, I have made an 
offering over them and poured out wine upon them.'* 
The flesh and the fat are not very good, particularly 
when the animal is old, but the head and skin are care- 
fully removed and prepared, then deposited in the royal 
treasury. The ancient kings of Assyria highly prized 
trophies of this kind. Tiglath - Pileser I. boasted 
nearly six hundred years ago of having brought a large 
number back from Syria, with elephants' tusks and a 
Nile crocodile, which Pharaoh had given him. ' I even 
took some young aurochs,' he added, ' and made herds 
of them.' This was a preserve which he wished to 
secure for future occasions, for he certainly never 
intended to break these gigantic brutes in for harness, 
nor to reduce them to the condition of domestic cattle. 
No doubt later on other sovereigns endeavoured, if not 
to tame them, r at least to keep them in parks ; but none 
of their attempts appear to have been successful, and 
we do not find in any of the annals of Assyria that 
herds of aurochs were maintained, either born in 
captivity or simply preserved long in the royal parks. 
Already their name for many contemporaries is a word 
that has lost its exact meaning. They no longer know 
whether it designates a real animal or one of those 
fantastic monsters that peopled the world in the earliest 
days of the creation. The commemorative bas-reliefs 
sculptured upon the walls of the palaces will soon be 

* As yet no auroch hunts have been found upon Assurbanipal's 
monuments ; all the preceding details are taken from the pictures of 
Sennacherib. The text of the inscription is taken from the bas-reliefs, 
which represent the king hunting the lion ; I have replaced the lion 
by the auroch. 


the only mementoes of their real form.* Two days 
passed in a vain search for lions ; on the third, when the 
king was thinking that he had better move the camp, 
a fellah, still trembling with his fright, came in and 
warned him that the same morning two lions had 
robbed him of a sheep in the outskirts of the village he 
inhabited. The lion of Assyria and Chaldea is smaller 
and less fierce than the lion of Africa. It is easily 
tamed when young, and as it grows older retains its 
affection for the master who feeds it and treats it well. 
The kings always keep one in the palace for their own 
amusement, but we do not find it trained to follow 
them into battle and fight against their enemies, like 
the lions of the Pharaohs of Egypt so often do.f In 
a wild state it inhabits the marshes on the borders of 
the river or canals. By day it crouches in the thickets, 
and leaves them only at the last extremit}' ; at night 
it goes in search of food, trying to surprise a gazelle 
or a wild ass. When game is scarce it prowls around 
human habitations ; a sheep, an ox, a horse, a dog, 
anything will do for it, but it rarely attacks a man. 
The lion is hunted with large dogs, supported by well- 
mounted riders ; but the dogs and horses must be 
trained first, or the sight and smell of the animal scares 
them away. The dogs used for this purpose are large 
mastiffs, with rough tangled coats, black upon the body, 
reddish upon the head and limbs ; the tail is curved, the 
lip pendant, the jaws wide (Fig. 138) ; it is said that 
when they have fastened on their prey they will let 
themselves be torn in pieces, but they will not let go 
their hold. 

Assurbanipal, delighted with this unexpected good 
luck, at once orders the marshes, in which the maraud- 

* The name rimou, Hebr. rem, has, in fact, been misunderstood 
in the few pages in the Bible in which it is mentioned ; before the 
cuneiform texts were deciphered it was usually translated licorne, 

t See p. 174, the account of the tame lion belonging to Barneses II,, 
and its share in the battle of Kadesh. 



ing lions have taken refuge with their prey, to be 
surrounded, then pauses a moment to examine them 
before he enters. A spongy soil, rather below the 

level of the plain ; 
at first a few pools 
of stagnant water 
scattered here and 
there, then some 
clumps of reeds 
and water-plants, 
and a real forest 
of giant rushes 
twelve or fifteen 
feet high. One 
or two paths 
beaten by the 
fishermen, who 
venture into these 
dangerous places, 
wind through the 
thicket ; a river 
passes through it 
and separates into 
ten branches, of 
which several ap- 
pear to be navig- 
able and flow into the Zab at a little distance away. 
Assurbanipal places a boat full of soldiers across the 
widest of the streams. Their duty is to cut off the 
lion's retreat if it tries to escape and swim across to 
the marshes and the plain beyond. He places the 
lines of beaters, then mounts a horse, the quiver at his 
back, the bow in his hand, and commands the dogs, 
hitherto held in leash by a, keeper, to be loosed. The 
brave animals at once rush into the thicket, closely 
followed by the king and the grooms, who carry his 
weapons and lead his second horse. 

A loud baying sounds above all the voices, then the 

Fig. 138.— The Dog used for hunting 
the Lions. 



angry roar of a wild beast, harsh and short. As he 
approaches one end of a large clearing, the king per- 
ceives two lions at the other extremity, both slowly 
retreating, followed at a respectful distance by half-a- 
dozen dogs. An arrow shot at a gallop strikes the lioness 
between the ribs (Fig. 139) ; as she turns to spring, a 

Fig. 139. — The King shoots an Arrow at the Lion whilst in 

full gallop. 

second pierces her shoulder, and a third enters the 
spine above the loins. She falls, then rising upon her 
fore paws, and painfully dragging her paralysed hind 
quarters, she waits for the 
attack, her neck firm, her 
head threatening (Fig. 140). 
A lance- thrust in the jaw 
kills her as she moves. At 
first her companion seemed 
inclined to defend her, but 
his courage failed at the 
sight of this sudden exe- 
cution, and four arrows 
striking him at the same time completely disconcerted 
him (Fig. 141). He bounds into the thicket and dis- 
appears, the dogs following. Assurbanipal rushes 
after them, but the soil soon gives way under the 
weight, his horse sinks up to the pasterns in the mud, 
and can scarcely free himself. The king hastily dis- 

Fig. 140.— Death of the Lioness. 



Fig. 141.— The Wounded Lion. 

mounts, gives the reins to a groom, and tries to follow 
on foot to the river's bank. 

The baying of the hounds, so loud but one moment 
ago, is now lost in the cover, and he has nothing to 

guide him. At 
every step he slips 
upon a leaf, stum- 
bles against a root, 
or entangles his 
feet in the young 
shoots and fallen 
branches. The 
rushes surround 
him so that he can- 
not see anything ; perhaps the lion is there, almost 
touching him, without his knowledge. And, in fact, 
a sudden opening in the green mass which imprisons 
him suddenly shows him the beast, standing on the 
bank but twenty steps away, strongly defined against 
the reflecting bottom of the river, absorbed in the 
contemplation of the boat which bars his passage. 
He is evidently questioning in his lion's brain which 
is his wisest course : to give battle upon the water and 
force a crossing, or to turn 
back into the .thickets of 
the marsh. The arrival 
of the king decides the 
question, and leaves him 
but the choice of two 
enemies. His rage at 
being tracked so closely 
revives his spirits. His 
tail lashes his sides, he 
wrinkles his face, shakes 
his mane, and with un- 
sheathed claws and open 

mouth rises upon his hind legs to end the battle at one 
blow. Assurbanipal, who was waiting for this moment, 

Fig. 142.— The King kills the 
Lion with his Lance. 



at once seizes his ear with the right hand, and plunges 
a lance into his breast (Fig. 142). The weapon, driven 
home, pierces the body through, touches the heart, 
and comes out behind the shoulder. He proves to be a 
savage old lion, of extraordinary size, about six feet 
long from the tip of the nose to the root of the tail, 
and it would be hard work to drag him through the 
marshes. Fortunately the boat is there ; the lion is 
carried to it, and suspended to the poop by the paws 
tied together, the head and tail falling over the water. 
Then the king embarks and gives the order to row 
back to the Zab, so as to return to the camp. The 


Fig. 143. — The Lion attacks the Koyal Boat. 

channel, wide enough in some places to form pools, is 
very narrow in others. In leaving one of the narrow 
points a loud roar startles them all, and a large wounded 
lion springs from the reeds, clears the six feet which 
separate him from the boat at one bound, and clings 
with his claws to the edge of the vessel (Fig. 143). 
But the king has already greeted him with an arrow 
full in the chest ; the crew have set upon him with 
spears, he is killed immediately, then hauled up, and 
hung on the other side of the poop as a pendant to the 
first lion. The three bodies are carried back to the 
camp (Fig. 144), then presented to Ishtar with the 



Fig. 144. — The Lion taken back to 
the Camp. 

same ceremonies that had celebrated the triumph over 
the wild bulls, and the sculptors were ordered to repre- 
sent the hand-to-hand struggle of the sovereign and 
his savage foe. ' I, Assurbanipal, king of peoples, 

king of Assyria, 
alone on foot, in 
my majesty, I 
seized a lion of the 
desert by the ear ; 
and by the mercy 
of Assur and Ish- 
tar, queen of battles, 
I pierced its loins 
with my lance, with 
mine own hands/ 

But the chase 
is not always so 
successful, and 
often in these later years the king has left Nineveh with 
much pomp, only to return with empty hands after a 
fortnight or three weeks of useless riding to and fro, 
without seeing anything but gazelles and wild goats. 
The times are past when the old Tiglath-Pileser could 
boast of having killed one hundred and twenty adult 
lions, sometimes following them on foot, sometimes on 
horseback, or even in his chariot. Now, probably, the 
whole of Mesopotamia does not contain so many, and 
every expedient is tried to procure them. They are 
sometimes imported from those fortunate countries 
which possess more than their princes care to have — 
from Chaldea, Arabia, Elam, and even from Africa. 
The purveyors have invented various methods of taking 
them alive. Here is one of the most simple : A large, 
deep pit is dug, and edged with a low wall of dry 
stones, as though it were an ordinary fold ; then a 
strong post is placed in the centre, its top showing a 
little above the wall, and a living lamb is fastened to 
it. The lion, attracted by the plaintive bleatings of 



the poor little creature, looks at the wall, easily jumps 
it, and lands at the bottom of the hole. The hunters, 
who are concealed near, run up, and allow it to 
exhaust itself in useless efforts to escape, then to get 
hungry, and finally after some time they lower with 
cords an open cage, in which they have placed a piece 
of roast meat. As soon as the lion has gone in to feed, 
they close it, and haul their prisoner to the surface, 
still furious and stupefied by its misfortune. 

The lions, forwarded to Assyria by the nearest 
route, are sometimes kept in large walled parks, in 
which they enjoy relative liberty, herds of goats being 
provided for their food. From time to time the king 
comes to enjoy the amusement of the chase. Often, 
also, the cage is placed in the centre of a plain, sur- 
rounded by an unbroken line of soldiers ; it is still a 
park, but temporary, and 
the wall is of men, not 
of brick or stones. The 
square formed, the keeper 
raises the trapdoor, and 
takes refuge in an open 
railed safety-box built for 
him on the roof of the 
cage (Fig. 145). The 
animal rushes out, stret- 
ches itself, looks round, 
then sees the enemy and 

comprehends the situation. This imitation hunt is 
copied from the real expeditions, the same weapons 
are used, the same methods of attack by arrows, 
spears, on foot, on horseback, or in chariots, but 
the lion has not the right to escape. Whenever it 
tries to break the line the soldiers repulse it, and 
force it to return and encounter the attacks of the 
sovereign. The fate of the auroch awaits the lion, 
and the time draws near when the sculptures will be 
the only testimony to the careless bravery with which 

Fig. 145. — The Lion Leaving 
its Cage. 


the Assyrian kings pursued it, even in its lair. It is 
doubtless written in the book of destiny that Assur- 
banipal will not complete the campaign so brilliantly 
commenced. Whilst he dedicated his lions to Ishtar, 
a special dispatch from his grand vizier, who remained 
at Dur-Sarginu during the expedition, to transact the 
royal business, begged him to return immediately. An 
ambassador from Elam had just appeared on the frontier 
coming from Teumman. He requested an audience, and 
whilst the demand was made in the most correct terms, 
it contained no allusion to the object of the visit. But 
no one doubted that he had received orders to demand 
the extradition of the princes, and the people that 
accompany him made no secret of the fact. 'Teum- 
man knows,' they say, ' the friendship which Assur- 
banipal has conceived for the nephews of Urtaki, and 
would be sorry to disturb it. He does not wish that 
they should be entirely restored to him, the bodies 
may be kept ; he only wishes for the heads, and will 
hold Assyria free to do as she likes with the rest/ To 
refuse the audience meant an immediate declaration of 
war, and the grand vizier dare not assume so much 
responsibility. Assurbanipal is less annoyed than 
might be supposed at the message which recalls him. 
The success of his expedition has excited him, and the 
war with Elam does not alarm him any more than the 
war with the lion. He returns to the city with the 
same order and with the same pomp as he left it. The 
Susian princes, who know that their destiny is in the 
balance, anxiously watch his face, and joyfully notice 
that it does not betray any mental preoccupation. 
The soldiers, who see in war a new opportunity of 
pillage and the rapid acquirement of wealth, openly 
rejoice at the thought of a campaign, of which the 
end is not even doubtful, and the good people of Dur- 
Sarginu, who cheered the king when he started, greet 
his return yet more warmly as they see the aurochs 
and lions carried home. 



The Assyrian court ; its luxury, and in what respects it differs from 
Egyptian luxury — The king's costume — The embroidery : through 
it the forms of Assyrian art are diffused over the world — The 
jewels — The king's ministers and their functions : the Tartan and 
the Li mmou — The embassy from Elam : the various races from 
Elam — Declaration of war — The Assyrian army : its method of 
making war — The dangers of a coalition, and the means used to 
prevent it — The dispatches forwarded to the governors and mili- 
tary commanders. 

The day fixed for the audience has arrived. Assur- 
banipal wished that the Elaraite ambassadors should 
receive every mark of consideration, and the whole 
court is assembled to do them honour. The Assyrian 
royalty is perhaps the most luxurious of our century. Its 
victories and conquests, uninterrupted for one hundred 
years, have enriched it with the spoil of twenty peoples. 
Sargon has taken what remained to the Hittites ; 
Sennacherib overcame Chaldea, and the treasures of 
Babylon were transferred to his coffers ; Esarhad- 
don and Assurbanipal himself have pillaged Egypt 
and her great cities, Sais, Memphis, and Thebes of the 
hundred gates. The foreign gods, Khaldia the Arme- 
nian, Melkarth of Tyre, Chemosh of Moab, Ptah, Amen, 
and their troops of divine animals have been humiliated 
before Assur, and the sacred vases from their temples 
are piled high in the chambers of the Ninevite palaces. 
Commerce has followed in the direction opened by the 
armies. Now foreign merchants flock into Nineveh, 


bringing with them the most valuable productions from 
all countries — gold and perfume from Southern Arabia, 
ivory from Africa and the Chaldean Sea, Egyptian 
linen and glass-work, carved enamels, goldsmith's 
work, tin, silver, Phoenician purple ; cedar wood from 
Lebanon, unassailable by worms ; furs and iron from 
Asia Minor and Armenia. The least of the nobles 
who lives near the king unites, in his palace and upon 
his person, the natural productions and manufactures of 
the whole world. 

The same wealth formerly existed on the banks of the 
Nile ; but Egypt was more refined, and never displayed 
her opulence with so much ostentation. Pharaoh and 
his nobles loved, and still love, elegance and perfection 
rather than rich ornaments and furniture. They wear 
little, and their garments are of simple white linen, but 
the quality is so light and fine that the form and 
colour • of the body are visible through it, and contact 
with it is a caress to the limbs. On the contrary, the 
Assyrians seek for heavy, stiff materials, shaggy and 
loaded with fringes, overweighted with many-coloured 
designs and embroideries. Their garments envelop 
them completely from neck to ankle, but they drape 
badly, and encircle the bust and hips almost without 
folds. Even the women seem to prefer a style of dress 
which enlarges them and conceals their natural shape 
as much as possible ; the wadded cases in which they 
imprison themselves give them a stiff, awkward appear- 
ance, which contrasts most unfavourably with the 
supple grace and easy movements of the Eg} r ptians. 

Assurbanipal has carefully powdered himself. His 
hair and beard, perfumed, combed, divided in rows of 
curls, one above the other, fall over his shoulders and 
chest. He wears for the occasion one of his most re- 
splendent state costumes. A high mitre, shaped like a 
truncated cone, exactly follows the outlines of his fore- 
head and temples ; it is of white wool, striped with blue. 
A wide band, ornamented with rosettes in golden 


thread, holds it in place upon the forehead ; the two 
ends are tied behind and fall upon the neck. The 
short-sleeved dress is of very deep blue, embroidered 
with rosettes in red cotton ; it is fastened round the 
waist by a wide sash carefully arranged in three folds, 
edged at the ends by a fringe of which each thread is 

Fig. 146. — Fragment of an Assyrian Embroidery, from a bas-relief 
reproduced by Layard. 

decorated by four rows of glass beads. A vest is passed 
over the robe, covering the shoulders and descending 
halfway down the back. The material of which it is 
made is almost hidden by heavy embroidery. Borders 
of flowers and palm-leaves surround religious scenes, in 
which the king adores the sacred tree, or struggles 
with a lion or with two winged sphinxes, or presents 
a bow and arrow to various divinities (Fig. 146). The 



design is most carefully and boldly drawn, and if a 
little overloaded, as a whole the details are so varied 
and beautiful that they fairly astonish those who are 
not aware of the manual skill of Assyrian women. 
They execute, or rather paint, with their needles these 
fragile pictures. Their reputation has extended to 
foreign lands, and not only nations civilised for many 
years, like Syria and Egypt, but even the half- savage 
peoples of Greece or distant Etruria greatly appreciate 
their work. 

The embroidered stuffs from Nineveh and Babylon 
are in fact one of the wares which the Phoenicians 
export with the greatest profit, and which render 
Assyria and Chaldea celebrated in lands where the 
fame of their arms has never penetrated. The images 
of gods and animals, natural or fantastic, represented 
upon them have been copied by the artisans of these 
different countries in their own materials, upon their 
jewels, their vessels in stone or metal. As they are 
ignorant of the signification of these figures, they 
separate them or group them arbitrarily, without any 
thought except to compose some harmonious decora- 
tions. They have even blended types borrowed from 
other nations^ particularly from the Egyptians, and 
this mixture of contradictory elements excites the 
amusement or wrath of learned Assyrians, when one 
of these grotesque works accidentally falls into their 
hands. It is even said that some of these barbarians 
have imagined that they recognised portraits of their 
gods and heroes in the figures of the Ninevite gods or 
kings. Thus, the Hellenes took possession of the 
superb group which represented the giant Gistubar 
strangling a lion with one arm and carrying it away 
with him. They believed it to represent Hercules, the 
son of Zeus, who formerly killed a gigantic lion in this 
way ; thus the portrait of the old Chaldean hero has 
become that of their national god. This is really one 
of the most curious and unexpected effects of commerce 


between the various nations ; the material form has 
become detached from the idea which inspired it, and 
has gone to the other end of the world to clothe a 
different idea, and give it the body it lacked. 

The jewels match the costume. The Assyrians 
have retained the use of ear-rings for men, which the 
Egyptians have rejected for some centuries. Those 
worn by the king to-day are very simple and of an 
ancient form, resembling those worn in the time of 
Sargon. They consist of a simple ring of gold, deco- 
rated with three balls upon the sides and ornamented 
by a pendant shaped like a spindle and adorned with a 
few balls. The bracelets are of a more elaborate design. 
Two are usually worn upon each arm. The first, placed 
very high towards the shoulder, is a golden reed rolled 
upon itself ; two lions' heads stop the ends of the 
spiral. The bracelet for the wrist is a golden circle, 
closed by a rosette with ten petals. The effect of these 
jewels is rather heavy; it produces the feeling that the 
owner is conscious of his wealth, and has told the artist 
to use a great deal of the gold. But the work, exa- 
mined closely, shows immense skill ; the lions' heads 
are expressive, the petals of the rosette are arranged 
with exquisite taste. The way in which the various 
motives are disposed is most ingenious. No doubt the 
Assyrian goldsmiths would succeed as well as the 
Egyptian if they were not obliged to work for clients 
who value jewellery for its mas- 
sive appearance and its weight. 

The necklet is not so im- 
portant in the Assyrian cos- 
tume as it is in the Egyptian ; 
it consists of a gold ring, to 
which the divine emblems are 
attached— the lunar crescent Fi e- 14 £~^ t e King ' s 
of Sin ; the four- rayed disk of 

Shamash, the sun ; the triple-pointed thunder of Adar 
(Fig. 147). It forms an amulet rather than an orna- 


ment, and the necessity for respecting the immovable 
types of the symbols has preserved its ancient form 
almost unaltered; just as we see it upon the sculptures 
worn by the old kings, so it is round Assurbanipal's 
neck to-day. The beauty of the sword a little com- 
pensates for the simplicity of the necklet. It is worn 
almost horizontally, nearly at elbow height, so that the 


Fig. 148.— An 
Assyrian Sword. 

Fig. 149.— The King in his 

State Costume. 

left hand usually rests upon the pommel when it is 
inactive. The rather short hilt is of turned ivory ; 
four lions' heads in gold are attached to it near the 
junction with the blade (Fig. 148). The sheath is of 
wood, overlaid with gold ; it is decorated towards the 
point with two golden lions, standing upon their hind 
legs, apparently playing with each other. The pro- 
fusion of gold produces a better effect than might be 


supposed. The pale yellow of the metal softens the 
otherwise rather crude tones of the vermilion, blue, 
and white materials. The king, thus apparelled (Fig. 
149), really looks what he wishes to be considered — the 
image of the gods upon earth. Foreigners, and even 
his subjects themselves, when they are first admitted 
to his presence upon state occasions, secretly think that 
they see in him the likeness of Assur, and should the 
god deign to come amongst us and reveal himself in a 
living form, he would surely resemble the king. 

After dressing in his private apartments, Assur- 
banipal crosses the courtyard shaded by a parasol, 
which a servant holds over 
him ; then he seats himself 
at the end of the audience 
hall upon a large carved 
armchair between two eu- 
nuchs, who fan him un- 
ceasingly (Fig. 150). His 
ministers and attendants 
stand on either side of the 
throne with the princes of 
his family. The highest in 
rank amongst them, the first 
in the empire after the king, 
is the Tartan, who has the 
supreme command of the 
troops. The duties which 
he fulfils have always been 
considered very important in 

a military monarchy like Assyria ; but they have be- 
come so heavy through the conquests of the last few 
years that Assurbanipal has been obliged to divide 
them. He has instituted a second Tartan, who exer- 
cises the same power as the first, but over one half of 
the empire only. Whilst this one, the Tartan of the 
left, holds authority over Commagene and the north- 
western provinces, the ancient Tartan on the right 

Fig. 150. 

-The King upon his 
r l hrone. 


dwells near the sovereign, and commands in the pro- 
vinces of the south and east. He is assisted by four 
viziers of less position — the mayor of the palace, who 
regulates the royal household ; the chief of the eunuchs, 
who rules over the women ; the Toukoulou, who is at 
the head of the priesthood ; lastly, the regent, who 
manages the financial department and the civil ad- 
ministration. From all time the Assyrians have had 
the habit of designating each year that passes by the 
name of an eminent personage, who is supposed to have 
directed its events, and whom they call limmou. For 
instance, they say that a certain town has been 
destroyed, or certain people conquered, Shamsi-ilou, 
Adar-malik, or Atar-ilou being limmou. The reigning 
sovereign is always limmou during the year which 
follows his accession to the throne ; after him, the 
great officers of the crown receive the same title in the 
order of precedence which their position gives them — 
first the Tartan, then the mayor of the palace, then the 
chief of the eunuchs, and so on, until the list of officials 
being ended, the hierarchy brings back the king's 
name for the second time, then those of his ministers. 
The crowd of courtiers and officers of less rank 
arrange themselves in lines by the walls of the hall. 
Their costume Is very similar to that of the king. 
They wear the same close-fitting fringed robe, the 
same short sword, the same bracelets and golden ear- 
rings : the head-dress is different. The lesser nobles 
are bareheaded, the others wear a fillet passed round 
the forehead and tied at the back ; the fillet worn by 
the viziers is wider than the others, and is ornamented 
with golden rosettes. They have all a proud, haughty 
expression, strongly marked features, and energetic 
carriage. They are usually of middle height, but 
thick- set and robust. Their arms are bare, and the 
development of the muscles denotes extraordinary 
strength ; whilst the outline of the body, so far as it 
can be defined through the thick robes, confirms the 


Fig. 151.— An 
Eiamite Nobleman. 

promise of great vigour given by the arms. They are 

a race of soldiers built for conflict, prepared and trained 

by the fatigues and perils of the chase for the fatigues 

and perils of war. Seeing them, it 

is easy to understand how, in spite of 

their small numbers and the limited 

extent of their territory, they have 

succeeded in subduing all the peoples 

of Asia, and in defeating the armies 

of Pharaoh. 

The Elamite embassy is headed 
by two noblemen of high rank in the 
court of Susa, Umbadara and Nebo- 
damiq. The customs and civilisation 
of the Susians in many ways resemble 
those of Assyria and Chaldea, but 
with something less polished, more 
savage about them. The costumes 
worn by the two ambassadors are 
similar to those of Assurbanipal's courtiers. They wear 
the long robe of brilliant colours, bordered with fringe ; 
the sword and bracelets. Umbadara has only a fillet 
round his head ; Ncbodamiq wears a round cap, fastened 
upon the temples by a ribbon (Fig. 151). The men 
who form the suite are of varied physiognomy and 
costume. Some of them are dressed like their leaders, 
but more simply. They closely resemble the Ass3 T rian 
type — strong curved nose, large eyes, long face, middle 
height. Others have woolly hair, flat nose, projecting 
mouth, thick upturned lips, short crisp beard ; they 
would be taken for negroes but for their white 
skins. They are natives of the provinces near the sea. 
Lastly, some are tall, slender, with straight nose, blue 
eyes, and a few of them with fair hair. They belong 
to the independent tribes that inhabit the mountains 
situated beyond Susiana, and they are connected with 
those Persians and Medes that call themselves Aryans. 
These brave soldiers have endeavoured latterly to unite 


their scattered clans in a single nation, obeying one 
king. Their success might prove a serious danger for 
Assyria, for they are bold, enterprising, and, above all, 
numerous. If any one can induce them to forget their 
mutual feuds, can group them round one leader, and 
discipline them, nothing can long resist him. Other 
nations may be superior in tactics, weapons, and con- 
fidence in themselves ; he will crush them beneath the 
masses of his soldiers. 

Luxury is not as visible amongst this varied group 
as in the court of the Assyrian monarch. The colours 
are equally brilliant, but the embroideries are less 
beautiful, the gilding and jewels less rich ; not that 
the Elamites are less fond of gold, but they possess 
less of it. Their appreciation of their relative poverty 
both humiliates and irritates them. The race hatred 
which they feel for the Assyrians adds to their natural 
insolence, and the looks which they have encountered 
since they crossed the frontier encourage them to 
believe that the powerful Ninevites are secretly afraid 
of them. They almost hope their mission will fail; a 
war would give them the treasures displayed with so 
much ostentation, as though in defiance of their mission. 

Umbadara and Nebodamiq, introduced by an 
eunuch, advance slowly, the eyes lowered, the hands 
crossed on the chest, between the double lines of 
courtiers. When they reach the throne they prostrate 
themselves, kiss the ground before the king's feet, 
then, upon a sign, rise and stand motionless before the 
sovereign. Usually the envoys of foreign princes 
remain kneeling during an audience. Assurbanipal, 
who wishes to spare the pride of the Susians, exempts 
them from this part of the ceremonial, and allows 
them to speak to him almost face to face. No one 
appears before a sovereign with empty hands, and even 
under these circumstances Teumman has not broken 
this rule of international courtesy. Umbadara and 
Nebodamiq, after the first salutations have been ex- 


changed, offer the presents they have been entrusted 
with — gold and silver vases, precious stones, and 
valuable stuff's. They then open the subject of their 
message, and communicate their master's proposals to 
Assurbanipal. Peace exists between Assyria and Elam; 
vshould they not endeavour to maintain it by every 
possible means? Teumman wishes to do everything 
in his power to please his brother Assurbanipal. Yet 
the latler has received and treated with great distinc- 
tion certain Elamite subjects, the sons of former kings, 
who, after conspiring against their legitimate sovereign, 
have fled to escape the just punishment which awaited 
them. If Assurbanipal consents to drive them away, or 
to deliver them to the ambassadors, he will have no ally 
more faithful than the Xing of Elam ; if not, it is war. 
The conclusion of the speech was foreseen. Assur- 
banipal's reply was equally certain . he was re- 
solved not to betray the princes, who had relied 
upon his generosity. He and his counsellors have not 
decided without some hesitation. Elam is a military 
power of the first rank, stronger than Armenia, 
Chaldea, or Egypt, and its kings have always success- 
fully resisted the most furious attacks. The Assyrians 
assert, in their official chronicles, that Sargon defeated 
Ummanigash, who reigned over Susiana during his 
life, and that he imposed a tribute upon him; but the 
annals of Elam and Chaldea relate another version of 
the story. In reality Sargon was defeated, and Assyria 
w r as invaded and devastated with impunity. Senna- 
cherib boasted of having defeated the forces of Minanou 
near Khaluli. Minanou on his side declines that he 
almost entirely annihilated the Assyrian army in the 
same battle ; and if we look at the matler without 
prejudice, we cannot help thinking that lie was right. 
Sennacherib, after this so-called triumph, was obliged 
to return home, and took no further steps against Elam. 
for some years. The effects of this victory curiously 
resemble those of a defeat. 


War against Elam is therefore a dangerous thing ; 
the Assyrians have quite as much to lose by it as to 
gain. Still, they have decided in favour of war. 
Assurbanipal declares that he cannot possibly accept 
the proposals of Teumman ; he knows the courage of 
his soldiers, the skill of his generals, and with the aid 
of Assur and Ishtar — of Ishtar particularly, the queen 
of battles — he hopes to win. Umbadara and Nebo- 
damiq, who have dared to bring him the challenge 
from the enemy, shall not return to Susiana ; they shall 
remain at Nineveh, prisoners with their suite, until the 
gods have decided between their king and the King of 
Assyria. At a word from the Tartan they are seized 
before they can attempt any resistance and taken 
away ; only the secretary and two or three of his 
servants are liberated and sent back to the frontier. 
They are to inform Teumman of the result of the 
embassy, and to give him a letter, in which Assur- 
banipal advises him to give up his evil projects, under 
penalty of incurring the anger of the gods. 

The war once decided on and declared, Assurbanipal 
hastens to take the measures necessary to commence 
it with vigour. The Tartan of the right, Belnahid, 
commences giving his orders as soon as the audience is 
over, and before nightfall couriers have already started 
in every direction with secret letters for the governors 
of the provinces and the allied sovereigns. All the 
administrative machinery is arranged in view of war, 
for war has for many centuries been the normal con- 
dition in Assyria. The troops are therefore ready to 
march at the first signal, and to move from one end of 
the empire to the other. They are almost entirely 
recruited in Assyria itself, and in the districts of 
Mesopotamia which have always belonged to the 
sovereigns of Nineveh. A few detachments of little 
importance accompany the governors of the provinces 
to their residence ; they form the nucleus of an army, 
and their fidelity can be absolutely relied upon. 


Around them, in case of need, the governors can 
assemble the troops raised among their native sub- 
jects and those brought by the vassal princes. The 
majority of the army is concentrated round the royal 
residences at Nineveh, Kalakh, or in the always 
threatened provinces which border Elam and Chaldea. 
The organization is so perfect that the regiments can 
be mobilised in a few days, and sent wherever the 
king has declared the war. They strengthen the 
regiments which garrison the frontier, and usually 
form with them a sufficiently numerous army to equal, 
if not to surpass, in numbers the forces which the 
enemy can bring against them. 

The divisions scattered in the other provinces 
remain almost inactive during this time. Since their 
departure usually gives the signal for a general insur- 
rection in the country which they occupy, they arc 
only called out in the last extremity, when it is a 
question of repairing a defeat or of filling the vacan- 
cies caused in the ranks by a murderous campaign. 
Thus each war unduly prolonged, or costing a large 
number of men, threatens to entail the dissolution of 
the empire. The Assyrian, knowing this, is therefore 
merciless to the cities he takes and the peoples he 
conquers. Not content with pillaging houses and 
ruining the fields, he massacres whole families, and 
no torture appears too cruel to punish those who have 
resisted him. He impales some, flays others alive, puts 
out the eyes or cuts off the lips of his prisoners — with- 
out counting the children and young girls whom he 
carries into slavery. His rule, established by force, is 
only preserved by force. The day which sees it 
weakened upon one point, will also see the hatred 
now silently repressed break out with new foree ; the 
countries outwardly most resigned to slavery will not 
hesitate to rebel, if a chance of regaining their liberty 
should occur. The couriers who carry tidings of the 
war against Elam to the governors, at the same time 


deliver orders to watch over their provinces with the 
greatest vigilance, so as to guard against any hostile 
movement, and to crush the slightest insubordination 
without mercy. Assyria has really but one army to 
place in the field, and cannot therefore contend with 
more than one enemy at a time ; if forced to divide 
her forces and to fight both against a foreign enemy 
and against her rebellious subjects, she would be too 
weak numerically to struggle for many years in suc- 
cession, and would at last succumb. 

The fear of an alliance between the natives dwelling 
at a distance, with the object of a simultaneous attack 
from Assyria, although formerly chimerical, is now 
but too well justified. When Pharaoh invaded Syria 
at the head of his bowmen and chariots, if the 
Ethiopians should rise against their viceroy at the 
same time, it was only an unfortunate coincidence, 
nothing more. The people who then inhabited the 
basin of the Orontes had so little direct communication 
with those who dwelt upon the banks of the Upper 
Nile, that the idea never occurred to them of endea- 
vouring to combine together against their common 
enemy. Revolts, which then failed miserably, would 
have destroyed the Egyptian power if any joint effort 
had been made, forcing Pharaoh to defend his northern 
and southern frontiers at the same time ; as it was, 
Pharaoh had time to move his troops from place to 
place, and to crush one by one those adversaries who 
would have overwhelmed him had they supported each 
other. The same thing happened to the ancient 
Assyrian conquerors, Tiglath-Pileser, Assur-nasir-pal, 
Shalmaneser II. Elam, Urartu, Chaldea, the kings of 
Damascus and the Hittites were attacked separately, 
and never thought of forming a coalition. Each nation 
in its own land valiantly defended itself as long as 
possible, but even neighbouring tribes did not think of 
allying themselves together — the Susians with the 
Babylonians, the Hittites with the Phoenicians and the 


kings of Damascus, the latter with the Hebrews, the 
Hebrews with Egypt. All these nations, invincible 
if they had combined, were conquered because they 
remained isolated. 

However, during the last century communications 
have become so rapid and easy between the different 
countries that the kings and cities now menaced by 
Assyria have agreed to unite in their resistance to her. 
When Sennacherib assailed Judea, king Hezekiah of 
Jerusalem entered into an alliance with Merodach- 
Baladan : the diversion made by the Chaldeans saved 
the Jews for some years. This lesson has not been 
lost. Since then all the nations have tried to join 
together against Assyria, whose policy has been to 
prevent the formation of a league at any price. There 
is a perpetual coming and going of secret messengers, 
conclusion of tacit alliances, conventions of mutual 
assistance between the most varied countries and 
princes. Gyges of Lydia makes a treaty with 
Psammetichus of Egypt, and promises to help him. 
Psammetichus in his turn forms an alliance with the 
small sovereigns of Southern Syria; the latter are always 
in correspondence with Chaldea, and Chaldea always 
inclines to side with Elam against Assyria. The union 
of so many nations would be irresistible if they could 
only be induced to act together, but as yet no one has 
succeeded in doing so. The distances between the 
allies are so great, some are impatient, others so slow 
and undecided, and it is said the watchfulness of the 
Assyrians is so active, that the best-planned schemes 
end in a check. Elam strikes a blow before Babylon is 
ready ; Egypt will not take the field if she can help it ; 
Judea, Moab, Amnion, the Philistines, Nabotei, and 
Arabs wait until Pharaoh's bowmen have entered Syria 
before they march. But the Assyrians advance at full 
speed, crush Elam or Chaldea, kill some hundreds of 
Arabs, sack a few Syrian cities. Pharaoh, always 
prudent, retires to Africa. The danger is averted, but 


it exists ; the coalition will soon be re-formed. When 
it can arrange its movements so that all its forces can 
take the field at the same time, the Assyrians will re- 
quire great luck and marvellous energy to escape ruin. 
Couriers hurry in every direction. The instructions 
they carry to the governors are couched in firm direct 
terms, without any flowery language and without any 
repetitions. Here, for instance, is the message sent by 
the king to Belibni, who commands a detachment in 
the land of the Pukudu,* towards the mouth of the 
Euphrates: — 'A letter from the king to Belibni: may 
the greeting I send thee bring happiness to thee ! 
With regard to thy rule over the people of Pukudu on 
the banks of the Kharrou, to whomever the house of 
his lord is dear, let him henceforth tell his lord all that 
he has seen and heard. And now do not fail to let me 
know everything that thou mayest hear with regard to 
them.'f Change the proper names and you will have, 
if not the form, at all events the substance of all the 
dispatches sent by the king to his generals on the 
evening of the audience and on the following days. 
They were to redouble their vigilance, not to allow any 
movement amongst the people under them to pass 
unnoticed, to transmit to the palace as quickly as 
possible the leas't item of information which they could 
collect. Their work is less brilliant than that of their 
comrades, who form part of the chief army ; but it is 
scarcely less important. If each of them preserves 
peace in his province, if he prevents any insurrection 
or represses it before it has time to strengthen and 
extend, Teumman, thrown upon his own resources, 
will not be able to stand before Assurbanipal, and 
Assyria will conquer Elam once more. 

* The Pukudu were an Aramean tribe, which inhabited the 
marshes at the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates, near a canal or 
river derived from the Tig»is, and named the Kharrou. 

t This dispatch is genuine, but it relates to one of Assurbanipal's 
wars against Chaldea and Elam, some years later than the one I 
have chosen for my subject here. 


assurbanipal's library. 

The old Chaldean literature — Assurbanipal orders the principal works 
to be copied for his library — The royal annals : account of the 
death of Gyges the Lydian— Money in Lydia — The goddess Ishtar 
The Descent of Ishtar into Hades — The poem of the creation — The 
poem of Gistubar — Gistubar struggling against the monsters — His 
dream — He captures Eubani — His struggle against Ishtar — Death 
of Eabani — Cure of Gistubar. 

Although sanguine as to his ultimate success, Assur- 
banipal cannot help feeling anxious as he thinks of the 
chances of the war, and this anxiety prevents him from 
sleeping. He calls one of the eunuchs on guard at his 
chamber door, and sends him to find the librarian of 
the palace : he wishes to have the tablets that chronicle 
the chief events of his reign brought to him, so that he 
may re-read the accounts of his former victories, and so 
revive his confidence. 

The Assyrians can write with a cut reed upon pre- 
pared skins, wooden tablets, and even upon the papyri 
Drought from Egypt by the caravans. They then use a 
cursive character derived from the Phoenician alphabet. 
The scribes use this writing for registering the booty 
taken during a war, the tributes, taxes, and the busi- 
ness of current administrations, which do not require 
the minutes to be preserved for a long time. When 
the subject of the work is history, literature, judicial 
acts, or official documents that must be deposited in the 
archives, they resort to the old Chaldean characters and 
clay tablets.* This system has some inconveniences, and 

* See in Chapter XII. the detailed description of these tablets. 

288 assurbanipal's library. 

a great many advantages. The books of baked earth 
are inconvenient to hold, heavy to handle, the cha- 
racters are not clearly defined against the yellow 
colour of the clay ; but, on the other hand, a work 
cut upon brick and incorporated with it, incurs less 
danger than a work written in ink upon rolls of 
papyrus. Fire cannot hurt it, water cannot injure it 
for a long time, and if it is broken the pieces are still 
good ; provided they are not reduced to powder, they 
can generally be readjusted and the text deciphered, 
with the exception of a few letters or some words of a 
phrase. The inscriptions found in the foundations of 
the most ancient temples, several of which are twenty 
or thirty centuries old, are, as a rule, clear and legible, 
as though they had just left the hands of the scribe 
who traced them and the potter who baked them. 
The hymns, magic incantations, lists of kings, annals, 
hymns composed almost at the commencement of his- 
tory, thousands of years before the Assyrian empire, 
although exposed to the accidents of twenty conquests, 
to the destroying fury of man and the assaults of time, 
have yet resisted them all, and have come down to us 
intact ; this would certainly not have been the case had 
their authors confided them to the papyrus, like the 
Egyptian scribes. The chief danger they encounter is 
to remain forgotten in the corner of a room, or buried 
beneath the ruins of an edifice ; then they sleep, so to 
speak, for many years, or even centuries, until the day 
when a chance excavation, or the intelligent search of a 
learned man, discovers them and restores them to the 

Assurbanipal is fond of old books, particularly of 
the old sacred works. He collects the scattered speci- 
mens from the chief cities of his empire, and even 
employs scribes in Chaldea, Ourouk, Barsippa, and 
Babylon to copy for him the tablets deposited in the 
temples. His principal library is at Nineveh, in the 
palace which he built for himself upon the banks of 

assurbanipal's library. 289 

the Tigris, and which he has just finished decorating. 
It contains more than thirty thousand tablets, methodi- 
cally classified and arranged in several rooms, with 
detailed catalogues for convenient reference. Many of 
the works are continued from tablet to tablet and form 
a series, each bearing the first words of the text as its 
title. The account of the creation, which begins with 
the phrase : Formerly, that which is a bore was not yet 
called the heaven, was entitled : Formerly, that which is 
above, No. 1 ; Formerly, that which is above, No. 2 ; and so 
on to the end. Assurbanipal is not less proud of his 
love of letters than of his political activity, and he is 
anxious that posterity should know how much he has 
done for literature. His name is inscribed upon every 
work in his libra ry, ancient and modern. ' The palace 
of Assurbanipal, king of legions, king of multitudes, 
king of Assyria, to whom the god Nebo and the god- 
dess Tasmetu have granted attentive ears and open 
eyes to discover the writings of the scribes of my 
kingdom, whom the kings, my predecessors, have em- 
ployed. In my respect for Nebo, the god of intelli- 
gence, I have collected these tablets ; I have had them 
copied, I have marked them with my name, and I have 
deposited them in my palace/ 

The library at Dur-Sarginu, although not so rich as 
the one in Nineveh, is still fairly well supplied. The 
scribe, Naboushoumidin, who has charge of it, soon 
takes the tablets containing the annals from their 
places and gives them to the eunuch. But what 
Assurbanipal wishes read to him in detail is less the 
history of his wars than the text of the oracles by 
which the gods have encouraged him to undertake 
them, and the enumeration of the miracles which they 
have worked for him. The exact recollection of what 
ha- been done for him in the past will disperse his 
fears, and give him faith in the aid they will bestow 
upon him in the future. ' Take the tablet,' he said 
to the reader, ' containing the account of Gyges, the 


Lydian, and repeat it to me.' The adventure of Gyges 
is celebrated throughout Assyria. The scribe then 
reads it aloud. ' Gyges, the king of Lydia, a country 
beyond the seas, a distant land, of which the kings, 
my fathers, had never even heard the name, Assur, my 
divine generator, revealed my name to him in a dream, 
saying : " Assurbanipal, the king of Assyria ; place 
thyself at his feet, and thou shalt conquer thine enemies 
in his name." The same day that he dreamed this 
dream, Gyges sent horsemen to salute me, and related 
to me the dream which he had had, by the mouth of 
his messengers. When the litter reached the frontiers 
of my empire and encountered the people of my empire, 
they said to him, "Who, then, art thou, stranger, whose 
land has never yet been visited by one of our couriers ?" 
They sent him to Nineveh, the seat of my royalty, and 
brought him before me. The languages of the east 
and of the west, which Assur had given into my hand, 
none of those who spoke them could understand his 
language, and none of those who surrounded me had 
ever heard speech like unto it. In the space of my 
empire I at last found one who understood it, and he 
told me the dream. The same day that he placed 
himself at my feet, mine, the king, Assurbanipal, he 
defeated the Cimmerians, who oppressed the people of 
his land, who ^ad not feared the kings, my fathers, 
and had not placed themselves at my feet. By the 
grace of Assur and Ishtar, the gods my masters, they 
took amidst the chiefs of the Cimmerians, whom he 
had defeated, two chiefs whom he chained heavily with 
manacles of iron and chains of iron, and he sent them 
to me with a rich present. Nevertheless, the horsemen 
that he at first sent regularly to pay homage unto me, 
he soon ceased to send them. He would not obey 
the commands of Assur, my divine generator, but 
foolishly trusted in his own strength, and in the wishes 
of his heart ; he sent bis troops to the assistance of 
Psammetichus, king of Egypt, who had contemptuously 


thrown off my yoke. T heard this, and prayed to 
Assur and Ishtar : " May his body be thrown down 
before his enemies, and may his bones be dispersed. " 
The Cimmerians, whom he had crushed in my name, re- 
appeared and subjugated his whole land, and his son suc- 
ceeded him upon the throne. The punishment which 
the gods, who are my strength, had drawn upon his 
father, at my request, he told me by his messengers, and 
he placed himself at my feet, saying : " Thou art a king 
acknowledged by the gods. Thou cursedst my father, 
and misfortune fell upon him. Send me thy blessing, for I 
am thy servant, who fears thee, and will wear thy yoke." 
In one moment this glorious episode of his history 
repasses before the eyes of the king ; he once more 
sees the arrival of the foreign ambassadors, their 
curious costumes, their embarrassment and that of the 
court, the time when he invoked the anger of the gods 
against Gyges, and the moment when the messengers 
of Ardys* informed him that the gods Lad granted his 
prayer. From that time Lydia has always been 
faithful to him ; every year Lydian horsemen cross 
Asia to lay their master's tribute before him. It is not 
large, but that is willingly excused, when the length of 
the journey is considered ; it consists of horses, stuffs, 
and above all, gold, which their country produces in 
great quantities. They have invented a very ingenious 
way of using it in the markets. In the royal work- 
shops it is made into small globular blocks of a certain 
weight, which are marked with a stamp, with the 
image of a horse's head, a flower, or a fox in full gallop. 
The mark and the size of the blocks show their value 
at once, and the usual weighing is, therefore, dispensed 
with. This greatly facilitates all commercial transac- 
tion s.f It is said that the use of this money is 
spreading ; some day it may even reach Assyria itself. 

* Ardys was the son of Gyges, and his successor upon the throne 
of Lydia. 

t See upon this subject, p. 21. 


Assurbanipal causes the account of his wars in 
Egypt to be read to him, then his campaigns against 
Baal of Tyre and the Phoenicians, and in all of them 
he recognises the effects of the protection which Assur 
and Ishtar extend over him. Ishtar, whom the 
Canaanites and Phoenicians revere under the name of 
Astoreth and Astarte, has not always been, in Assyria, 
the all-powerful divinity that she is now. The most 
ancient kings never recognised in her anything beyond 
' the mistress of battles and of war, the sovereign lady, 
who embellished the faces of the soldiers ? — a race of 
conquerors was certain to worship a goddess of war. 
They had raised two sanctuaries to her, which soon 
became celebrated, the one in Nineveh, the other in 
the small town of Arbela, beyond the Zab, almost upon 
the eastern frontier of their land. They piously invoked 
her, but always placed her in the background, far behind 
Assur, Sin, and the other gods. Esarhaddon brought her 
out of the shade, where she had been thrown, and made 
her his patron. Each time he started for a new 
expedition he consulted her, and she answered through 
her priestesses ; the events never falsified her predic- 
tions. The love which Assurbanipal feels for her is, 
therefore, a really paternal inheritance, like the throne 
itself. It is towards her that he instinctively turns 
when he has any reason for joy or sadness: he thanks 
her for his successes, confides his anxieties to her, and 
loves nothing better than listening to the books which 
speak of her and of her mysterious adventures. He 
interrupts the eunuch in the midst of his reading, 
between the account of a raid upon Armenia and that 
of an excursion against the peoples of the Taurus, and 
commands him to go and ask Naboushoumidin for the 
Descent of Ishtar into .Hades. 

This is one of the most touching- episodes in the 
life of the goddess. Her husband, Tammuz, had been 
killed, and, god though he was, had been obliged to 
join the other dead beneath the earth, in the gloomy 

assurbanipal's library. 293 

kingdom of Allat. There was but one way of restoring 
him to the light ; he must bathe in and drink of the 
waters of that wonderful spring, which restores those 
who drink it.* Ishtar resolved to o and fetch some 
of it ; but no one can enter Hades before he is dead, 
and Ishtar is not more exempt from the fatal law than 
other beings. ' To the land from whence no traveller 
returns, to the regions of darkness, Ishtar, the daughter 
of Sin, has directed her spirit ; yes, the daughter of 
Sin herself has directed her spirit to the house of 
darkness, the seat of the god Irkalla, to the house 
which those who enter can never leave, by the road 
over which no one travels a second time, to the house 
of which the inhabitants never again see the light, the 
place where there is no bread, but only dust ; no food, 
but mud ; no one can see the light there, all live in 
darkness, and like the birds, are clad in a raiment of 
feathers ; upon the gate and the lock on all sides the 
dust lies thick.' Ishtar reached the ramparts of Hades ; 
she knocked, and addressed the doorkeeper in an 
imperious tone : ' Guardian of the waters of life, open 
thy doors ; open thy doors, that I may go in ! If thou 
do not open thy gate and let me in, I will sound the 
knocker, I will break the lock, I will strike the thres- 
hold and break through the portal. I will raise the 
dead to devour the living, the dead shall be more 
numerous than the living.' The doorkeeper opened his 
mouth, he spoke, he said to the lady Ishtar : ' Stay, 
O lady ! do not break down the door, but allow me to 
go and announce your name to Ninkigal, f the queen 
of Hades ! ' The guardian descended and announced 
Ishtar' s visit to Ninkigal : * goddess ! thy sister 
Ishtar has come in search of the living water ; she has 
shaken the strong bolts, she threatens to break down 
the doors.' When Allat heard this, she opened her 

* See upon this wonderful spring, p. 248. 

t The goddess of the dead is called Allat or Ninkigal indifferently 
during the narrative. 


mouth and spoke : ' Thus, like grass under the scythe, 
Ishtar has descended into Hades, like a reed, which 
bends down and withers ; she has asked for the waters 
of life. Well, what does her wish matter to me ? 
What can her anger do to me ? She says : " With 
this water I would revive my husband, and he would 
satisfy me, like food, and quench my thirst like a 
beverage, which revives the faint ! ' If I must weep, 
it would not be for her, but for the heroes who have 
been forced to leave their wives; I would weep for the 
brides that thou, O guardian, hast torn from the bosom 
of their husbands; I would weep for the little children 
whom thou hast taken before their day had dawned. 
Go then, O guardian, and open the gates for her, but 
unrobe her according to the old laws.' Mortals come 
naked into the world, and naked must they go out of 
it, but the piety of their relations or friends provides 
them with ornaments and clothes, which they hope to 
take with them. The law of Hades does not allow 
them to retain anything, and the demons take all their 
possessions away before presenting them to the queen. 

The guardian went and opened the door : ' Enter, 
O lady, and since the city of Coutha rejoices because 
of thee, so may the infernal palace rejoice because of 
thee/ He let her pass through the first gate, shut it 
upon her, and took off the crown she wore upon her 
head. ' Why then, guardian, hast thou removed 
the crown from my head?' 'Enter, lady; I obey 
the commands of Allat.' And at each gate he took off 
some of her jewellery, her ear-rings, her jewelled 
necklet, the veil which covered her bosom, her 
enamelled waist-belt, her bracelet, and her ankle- 
rings ; at the seventh gate he took off her last gar- 
ment. Therefore, when Ishtar descended into Hades, 
Allat saw her and treated her with contempt. Ishtar 
lost all patience and reproached the queen bitterly. 
Allat, to punish her, called Namtar, the demon of 
pestilence, her messenger of death, and gave the rebel 

assurbanipal's library. 295 

into his hands : ' Go, Namtar, take Ishtar and lead her 
from my presence. Sixty times strike her with disease, 
pour disease of the eyes into her eyes, disease of the 
loins into her loins, disease of the heart into her heart, 
disease of the head into her head ; upon her and upon 
each of her limbs pour disease.' Now whilst she suf- 
fered the pangs of Hades, all nature was mourning for 
her loss — animals, men, the gods themselves, all were 
perishing, and the world would have been depopulated 
had not means been found of rescuing her from the 
tomb which she had entered. 

Hea, the supreme god, the king of the universe, 
who alone can violate the laws which he has imposed 
upon creation, determined to recall her and to grant 
the boon, for which she had descended into the realms 
of Allat — the water of life, that would restore Tammuz 
to life. Hea, in the wisdom of his heart, made a man, 
he created Assousounamir the eunuch : ' Go then, 
Assousounamir, turn thy face towards the gates of 
Hades, let the seven gates be opened before thee, that 
Allat may see thee and rejoice in thy presence. When 
her heart is at peace and her anger appeased, adjure 
her by the great gods, then turn thy head and go to the 
retreat of the stormy winds, command the house of the 
stormy winds, where the pure fountain is imprisoned, 
and let Ishtar drink of its waters.' Allat dare not dis- 
obey the commands of the master of the gods ; she 
called Namtar and told him to prepare everything, so 
that life might be restored to the goddess. The spring 
is hidden far down beneath the threshold of the palace ; 
the stone must be broken before the water will appear, 
and even then it will not produce its full effect unless 
the Anunakiy the seven mysterious spirits who preside 
over the preservation of the earth, are present. ' Namtar 
went and struck the solidly constructed palace, he 
broke the threshold, invoked the spirits of the earth, 
and seated them upon a golden throne, then poured 
the water over Ishtar and led her towards the daylight/ 
He restored her garments and ornaments as she passed 

296 assurbanipal's library. 

from door to door ; when she had returned to the en- 
trance he informed her that henceforth the life of her 
husband was in her own hands. ' If Allat has not yet 
given thee the life thou hast so dearly bought, come 
back to her and claim Tammuz, the husband of thy 
youth. Pour the water of life over him, anoint him 
with precious scents, and clothe him in a purple robe.' 
Nature revived with Tammuz : Ishtar had conquered 

The form of this work is modern, but the original 
conception and the development are very ancient : the 
descent of Ishtar into Hades was already sung by the 
earliest masters of Chaldea, with several other works 
that we still read with admiration. The poets and 
priests knew how to compose grand religious poems 
with a skill and wealth of imagination that scribes of 
later generations have never equalled. It is natural 
that this should be so. In their days the earth was 
still newly created, and they felt the gods were nearer 
to them than we can do. When they described the 
first days of the world, they and their audience had 
no difficulty in imagining the events of the beginning 
of the centuries ; they knew them through the direct 
revelation of the gods who had shared in the work. 
In the time when the heavens above were not, and 
the earth was not named, the primordial water-deep 
engendered th&m, and Moummou Tiamat, the Ocean 
Chaos, was mother of them all. The waters formed 
but one mass, the fields of corn were sterile, and 
the pastures were not yet grown. In these days 
the gods had not yet appeared, they had no names, 
and their destiny was not yet fixed.' All things 
issued from the water, the earth, the heaven, and 

The old inspired singer then narrates the successive 
generations of the gods, and the struggles by which 
they triumphed over Tiamat. Merduk, or Merodach, 
of Babylon, the sun-sovereign, was their champion. 
' Go/ they said to him, ' and cut short the days of 


Tiamat, and throw her blood to the winds. He had 
the bow prepared so as to make a weapon, he bran- 
dished the club and fastened it to his side, he seized 
the boomerang and held it in his right hand. When 
he had suspended the bow and quiver upon his shoulder 
he launched a flash of lightning before him, and in- 
stantly an impetuous speed filled all his limbs. He 
who fears no rival entered the chariot of fate, and 
stood firmly there; his hand fastened the four pairs of 
reins to the edge of the chariot/ Thus armed he threw 
himself upon Tiamat and attacked her. ' He brandished 
the club and crushed her ; he broke her chest, tore out 
her heart, bound her and cut short her days, then 
threw down the corpse and stood over it. When 
Tiamat, who marched before them, was defeated, he 
dispersed her soldiers, scattered their battalions ; and 
the gods, her allies, who marched beside her, trembled, 
they were afraid, they turned round and fled to save 
their lives, so they pressed against each other in their 
hurried flight ; but he followed them and broke their 

The longest of these old poems relates the great 
deeds of Gistubar. He was born in Ourouk of Chaldea, 
the son of a king ; he would have been himself a king 
had not his father been dethroned by the Elamites 
when he was yet an infant in the cradle. Brought up 
in exile, he devoted himself to the royal amusement of 
hunting. The earth was not at that time peopled as it 
now is, and wild beasts waged cruel war against men : 
not only lions, tigers, and aurochs, which kings delight 
in killing now, but monsters with forms half -human 
joined to those of the most formidable animals. Human- 
headed bulls, which are now only seen in stone at the 
palace gates, then existed in flesh and blood, continually 
seen in the country. Scorpion men, satyrs, griffons, 
inhabited the desert and the mountain, ready to d - 
scend upon any one who crossed the boundaries. 
Gistubar had already destroyed a great number of 
them, when the gods, seeing the end of the predestined 


days of exile drawing near, sent him a dream. Then 
he revealed his dream, and said to his mother : ' I have 
dreamed a dream in my sleep ; for it seemed unto me 
that the stars of heaven fell from heaven, and they 
fell upon my back, descending from heaven upon me. 
And see, as I looked suddenly I paused, and I saw a 
being raise his face before me, a creature with a ter- 
rible face, and claws like unto the claws of a lion.' 
It then seemed to him that he fought against the 
monster and destroyed it : then he awoke. 

Dreams do not come by chance ; they are the mes- 
sengers of the gods, by which they announce the 
future to those who can understand them, but Gistubar 
could not find any one to interpret his dream. At last 
some one told him of a monstrous genie, Eabani, whose 
wisdom was unequalled, but who dwelt alone in the 
mountain. He had the bust and face of a man, the 
legs and tail of a bull, and horns upon his head. ' He 
feeds with the gazelles during the night, he remains 
hidden during the day with the animals of the fields, 
and his heart rejoices over the reptiles that are in the 
water.' Gistubar sent his chief huntsman, Za'idou, to 
take him, but Za'idou was frightened at the sight of 
the monster, and returned without daring to approach 
him. Then the hero resorted to craft : he chose two 
beautiful women, Hakirtou and Oupasamrou, who 
enticed Eabani out of the cavern where he had con- 
cealed himself. He approached Hakirtou and listened 
to her song, then he became attentive to it, and at last 
turned towards her and seated himself at her feet. 
' Hakirtou bent her face towards him, she spoke, and 
he listened to her words. She then said to him : 
" Eabani the illustrious, who resemblest the gods, why 
dost thou dwell amongst the animals of the desert ? 
I wish thee to follow me to the centre of Ourouk, to 
the temple of Elli-Tardousi, the dwelling of Anu and 
Ishtar, the house of Gistubar, the strong giant, who 
stands like a bull before the chieftains." She spoke, 
and before her words all the wisdom of his heart 

assurbanipal's library. 299 

melted and disappeared,' He followed her to Ourouk, 
explained that the dream foretold the hero's victory 
over his enemies, then married one of the women who 
had induced him to leave his solitude. Thus Gistubar 
won the affection of his servant Eabani, whom he 
always loved. 

Gistubar then took the field, and the Elamite first 
experienced the strength of his arms. HoumLaba, 
who had dethroned his father at Ourouk, ' he killed 
him ; took his weapons and spoiled him, then put on 
the insignia of royalty, he cut off his head, and put on 
the diadem and the crown: ves, Gistubar ornamented 
himself with the crown and put on the diadem. 
Ishtar, the goddess of Ourouk, raised her eyes and 
looked upon him, then seeing him so handsome and 
so strong, she decided that she would marry him. 
'Listen to me, Gistubar, and be my husband; I will 
be a vine unto thee and thou shall be the trellis to 
which I am bound, thou shalt be my husband and I 
will be thy wife. I will give thee a chariot of crystal 
and of gold, the pole is of gold and the ornaments are 
of glass, and thou canst yoke thine horses to it every 
day. Enter our house under the shadow of the cedar- 
trees, and when thou art there the Euphrates will kiss 
thy feet. Kings will bow down to thee, nobles and 
princes will bring offerings unto thee, the tribute of 
the mountain and of the plain. In thy parks thy 
sheep shall bear thee twins, in thy stables thy mule 
shall come to demand its burden ; thine horses shall 
always gallop with thy chariot, and thy bull shall 
have no rival in bearing the yoke/ Gistubar heard 
her, but repulsed her with a mixture of contempt and 
fear, asking her what she has done with the mortal 
husbands that she has married during her long life as 
a goddess. Tammuz, whom she mourned so deeply ; 
Alala, the eagle, whose wings she clipped ; the 
powerful lion, whose claws and teeth she extracted 
by sevens; the untamed horse who carried her in 
battle ; and Taboulou, the shepherd ; and the gardener 

300 assurhaxipal's library. 

Isoullanou ; all died before their time. ' And I, I 
will not ascend to thee to fall again, for thou lovest 
me but to treat me as thou hast treated them/ 

Ishtar thus rejected, hurried to throw herself at the 
feet of her father Ami, the sovereign of the gods, and 
implored his vengeance against the hero who has 
insulted her. ' My father, create a divine bull and 
launch it against Gistubar. ' Ann granted the prayer 
of the goddess and created the bull, but Gistubar 
entrusted the faithful Eabani with the task of fighting 
against the adversary. ' He also assembled three 
hundred heroes, so that they could replace Eabani if 
he were killed, and he made two ranks for the battle 
and one rank to fight against the divine bull. Then 
the creature lowered its horns against this third row, 
but Eabani conquered it. Eabani pierced the body of 
the bull, he seized it by the top of the head, and 
plunged his poignard into the nape of its neck. 
Eabani opened his mouth, he spoke, he said to the 
hero Gistubar, " Friend, we have succeeded and we 
have destroyed the enemy ; but, friend, let us reflect 
upon the consequences, and fear the power of Ishtar. 
Divide the limbs of the bull." And Ishtar ascended 
the wall of Ourouk, she tore her garments and uttered 
a curse. <k I curse Gistubar, who has insulted me and 
killed the divine bull!" But Eabani heard the words 
of Ishtar, and he cut off the limbs of the divine bull 
and threw them down before her. " Here is the reply 
to thy curse ; I accept it, and as I received it from 
thee, I turn it against thee." Ishtar assembled her 
servants and lamented with them over the limbs of the 
bull.' Gistubar consecrated the horns and the skin to 
the Sun- god. 

Still the hatred of Ishtar pursued him, and despair- 
ing of finding an enemy capable of vanquishing him 
in a fair contest, she called disease to her assistance, 
and disease overcame the hero. Leprosy covered his 
body, and the fear of death, that last enemy of man, 
drew near to him. Once more the gods interfered to 


save him ; they revealed to him in a dream that he 
could be cured by the intercession of Khasisadra, and 
even become immortal. Khasisadra, the son of Ouba- 
ratoutou, was the last of the ten kings who ruled in 
Chaldea immediately after the Creation. When the 
gods destroyed mankind to punish them for their sins, 
he only escaped in his ark, and he repeopled the world 
with his descendants. Then by the command of des- 
tiny he was carried away whilst still living, and was 
transported to the mysterious gardens where the 
blessed dead reside, beyond the mouth of the Eu- 
phrates.* Gistubar started in search of him, but his 
usual good luck failed him ; he lost his way, and the 
faithful Eabani perished in the claws of a more terrible 
monster than any he had yet seen. The soul of Eabani 
joined the souls in the kingdom of Allat, but Ilea, the 
creator, took pity upon him and commanded his son 
Merodach to deliver him. He rose from earth like a 
cloud of dust, and ascended to heaven. The gods wel- 
comed him and feasted him. Now lying upon a sump- 
tuous couch, he drinks pure water, and from above he 
watches the spectacle of human actions. ' He who 
falls in battle, I see him as thou seest me. II is 
mourning father and mother support his head, his 
wife laments over his body. His friends stand in the 
plain, and he sees them as I see thee, and his orphan 
children cry aloud for bread, but others eat the food 
that was ready in his tents.' 

Gistubar recommenced his journey. Henceforth 
he travelled alone ; yet after many wanderings he 
reached the mountains of Mas, where the sun rises 
every morning and sets every evening under the 
guardianship of scorpion men. The latter referred him 
to the pilot Ourbel, who told him to construct a boat, 
and then took him after six weeks' delay to the dwell- 
ing of Khasisadra. There he was forced to stop, for no 
living mortal can cross the stream which surrounds 
the garden. But Khasisadra, touched by his misery, 
* See p. 250 respecting the Chaldean paradise. 



related the story of the Deluge to him,* and pointed out 
a certain cure for his illness; saying, that not only should 
he not die, but at the end of his trials the gods would 
receive him and would confer immortality upon him. 
The poem ends with this consoling promise, and, in fact, 

Gistubar is now a god. 
Poetry, sculpture, and 
the plastic arts have 
immortalised his life and 
his adventures. He is 
the giant whom we have 
seen by the side of the 
winged bulls at the door 
of the palaces strangling 
a lion in his arms (Fig. 
152 ).t The cylinders 
which the Assyrians 
wear hanging round 
their necks, and which 
they use for seals, J often 
bear as the subject of 
their decoration some in- 
cident of his life — his 
struggles against the 
bull and the lion, his 
meeting with the scor- 
pion men, his voyage 
upon the Euphrates with 
Ourbel, his quarrel with 
Ishtar. If the poem 
which rendered his name 
popular should perish in the lapse of time, these nu- 
merous images and pictures would still enable inquirers 
to partly rewrite it. 

* The episode of the Deluge is fully given in M. Maspero's 
Histoire Ancienne. 

t See above, chapter xi. , the figure of Gistubar by the side of the 
winged bull. 

X See p. 226 and Fig. 124, several of these cylinders. 

Fig. 152. — Gistubar strangling 
a Lion in his Aims. 



Chaldean astrology — Influence of the stars over the human destiny — 
An exact observation of the stars enables astrologers to foretell 
future events — The message of the stars upon the war with Elam 
— The books of omens and the tables of Sargon the ancient — 
Assurbanipal invokes Ishtar of Arbeia, and the goddess answers 
him — The Seers and the interpretation of dreams — Apparition of 
Ishtar to one of her Seers — The gods of Elam prophesy like the 
gods of Assyria. 

The same anxiety which prevents Assurbanipal from 
sleeping impels him to question the stars and the 
oracles, to wrest from them the secrets of the future. 
The Chaldeans have known from all ages how to read 
human destinies in the book of heaven. The stars, far 
distant as they are from our earth, are not indifferent 
to anything that happens upon it. They are animated 
beings, endowed with good or bad qualities, their rays 
travel through space, and from a distance they in- 
fluence all that they touch. These influences modify 
each other, combine or nullify their mutual power, 
according to the intensity with which they are mani- 
fested, the position the stars occupy in heaven with 
regard to each other, the hour of the night and the 
month in the year in which they rise or set behind the 
horizon. Each portion of time, each division of space, 
each category of beings, and in each category each 
individual animal, vegetable, or mineral is placed under 
their rule, and submits to their inevitable tyranny. 
The child is born their slave, and remains their slave 


until his last day ; the star which prevailed at the time 
of his birth becomes his star and rules his destiny 

But not only individuals, peoples and kingdoms are 
also subject to particular stars, or to stars which govern 
the existence of their kings. They increase or decrease 
according to the perpetual impulsion given from on 
high ; the history of their disasters and prosperity in 
the past is registered on the face of heaven, and that 
of their future disasters or prosperity is equally clearly 
written for those who can read the record. Astrologers 
have been working at this science for many centuries, 
and their observations, accumulated from age to age, 
now enable us to know the special character and virtue 
of each of those luminous points that brighten our 
nights; to calculate without many chances of error 
the numerous aspects they bear in relation to each 
other ; to decide which amongst them exercise the 
most authority over human affairs, at what moment 
this authority is the strongest, and when it becomes 
weaker or disappears altogether. The signs which are 
visible in heaven, in addition to the regular phenomena, 
also play their part in this divination by the movements 
of the celestial bodies. The sun and moon do not wrap 
themselves in bloody vapours or hide their faces behind 
the clouds without some reason for doing so. When 
they eclipse themselves or suddenly appear inflamed 
with unendurable brilliancy, when fires burn on the 
horizon and, upon certain nights, the stars seem to 
detach themselves from the heavens and to fall upon 
the earth, these prodigies are warnings which the 
gods send to nations and to kings before great crises. 
Happy is the man whose eyes are clear-sighted to per- 
ceive them, whose intelligence is quick enough to under- 
stand them, who has the prudence and presence of mind 
to regulate his conduct by their predictions ! 

Every night from the top of the many-storied 
towers the astronomers are now observing the heavens, 
seeking to discover the signs which will reveal the issue 


of the coming struggle between Assyria and Elam ; but 
it would almost seem that the heavens intended to con- 
ceal the secret. From all sides the same reports reach 
the king ; so far, the state of the almo phere will not 
allow any accurate observations to be made. Ishtar- 
nadinshoum, the chief astronomer of Arbela, writes : 
* Peace and happiness to the king, my master; long 
may he prosper. On the 29th T observed the node of 
the moon, but clouds obscured the field of observation, 
and we were unable to see the moon/ Naboua of El 
Assur, and Naboushoumidin of Nineveh, express them- 
selves in almost the same words. The latter, summing 
up the dispatches of his fellow- workers to present their 
reports to the king, is even forced to own that upon 
'the 27th the moon disappeared, on the 29th it was 
invisible ; upon the 28th, 29th, and 30th the node of 
the darkening of the sun was continually watched, but 
the eclipse did not take place/ The obstinacy with 
which the heavens refuse to speak disconcerts many 
of the people, and the most doleful rumours commence 
to circulate amongst the populace. A great many 
persons take a kind of bitter pleasure in collecting and 
spreading the most alarming predictions. They repeat 
an observation of the astronomer Nabomousessi, that 
- when a cloud conceals the heart of the constellation 
of the Great Lion, the heart of the country is sad, and 
the king's star is darkened.' Now, last night a cloud 
passed before the Great Lion and partly concealed it ; 
the stars, therefore, condemn the land to sadness, and 
what cause for depression can there be if the war with 
Elam is to end well? Others relate that the night 
before last the moon was half hidden by clouds as she 
rose, so that onty the lower half of the disk was visible. 
Every one knows that the phenomenon signifies an in- 
vasion of the Assyrian territory by the enemy, and 
great mourning for a prince. Several confirm the 
predictions of the moon and the lion by that of Venus: 
Yesterday, the 5th of January, Venus rose just as the 


sun set, and this announces both a good harvest and 
the presence of an enemy's troops in the country ; the 
first prophecy is welcome, but to what enemies can the 
star allude except the Elamites? 

Thus sadly whisper those people who are anxious 
about the war, or whose interests are jeopardised by 
it ; others are less gloomy, and have procured favour- 
able omens for themselves, which they quote in oppo- 
sition to the gloomy predictions of the former. Now, 
three times running, since the commencement of the 
month, Sin, the god of the moon, has disappeared 
early in the morning before sunrise, and now three 
times at sunset he has been wrapped in clouds and has 
refused to give light to the earth. This is a rare but 
very important sign; before it the usual omens lose all 
their signification. It means the end of Teumman's 
reign and the ruin of his empire. This is the explana- 
tion given by the royal astronomers of Nineveh and 
Dur-Sarginu, and Assurbanipal himself accepts it freely. 
Indeed, their predictions flatter the national pride too 
much for them not to be promptly received by the 
people in preference to those of the other astrologers. 
A rumour spreads through the land that Sin has 
declared in favour of Assyria, and henceforth all the 
reports sent to the king of the heavenly movements 
unite in promising a complete victory. The 11th of 
Tammuz, a greenish light ; the land of Elam will be 
ravaged. On the 14th, towards evening, the moon 
and the sun were both visible, and, so to speak, balanced 
each other at the two extremities of the horizon ; this 
is a proof that the gods intend bestowing additional 
prosperity upon Assyria. On the 1 6th, Jupiter was 
brilliant in the middle of the night ; this indicates a 
battle in which many enemies will perish, and their 
bodies will remain unburied. Thus each day and each 
night brings its new omen, which confirms those pre- 
viously recorded and increases their force. 

The profound knowledge which every one in 


Assyria, even the common people, possesses on these 
subjects astonishes foreigners, and leads them to think 
that there are almost as many astrologers or sorcerers 
as there are inhabitants upon the banks of the Eu- 
phrates. Yet it does not require much learning to 
enable one to understand the language of the stars, for 
there are a number of books which teach the people how 
to translate it without any difficulty. AssurbanipaPs 
library contains at least forty of them, and these are 
only the principal works, the classics of this kind of 
study. There are many more, which have not the 
same authority, but which are not less attentively read 
and commented upon by the people. Some treat of 
eclipses of the moon, and the events which they an- 
nounce, according to the month and day upon which 
they take place. Others study the movements of each 
planet and the influences which it exerts over the earth, 
either alone or where two or three appear together in 
the sky. Or it may be a catalogue of the prognostics 
to be derived from thunder. If it thunders on the 
27th of Tammuz, the harvest will be good and the 
yield magnificent ; if it thunders six d lys later, on the 
2nd of Ab, there will be inundations or rain, the king 
will die, and his country will be divided ; if it thunders 
on the 3rd, an epidemic will cause ravages in all parts, 
and if it is the 4th an earthquake will threaten the 
cities. A very useful calendar for a nation of soldiers 
indicates the favourable or unfavourable character of 
each month for military operations. For instance, 
Tammuz is a propitious month for commencing a cam- 
paign or fortifying a city, but it is fatal to any one 
giving battle in the open field or assaulting a city. 
Iyyar has inverse properties ; it is lucky for battles or 
sieges, but no one should commence a war or construct 
a fortress during that month. 

These are black books in common use, which the 
first comer will be able to understand after a little 
while. Others exact long years of careful study ; they 


are accessible to learned men only. They cannot be 
used with any profit unless one watches the stars, and 
learns to follow their courses. The initiation is slow 
and painful, but those who attain it become in some 
degree the heralds of the gods upon earth. Destiny 
speaks to men through them, and each night reveals 
some portion of the future. Sometimes this is a 
dangerous honour. The kings will not undertake 
anything without first consulting the initiates, and they 
trust to them to point out the most favourable time for 
the execution of the royal projects. One moment's 
lassitude whilst they are taking their observations, one 
inaccurate figure in their calculations, one error in 
reading the stars or in interpreting the signs, may ruin 
the sovereign who relies upon them. Some of the 
kings have declared war and have been defeated or 
killed, but if their astrologers had been more attentive 
or more skilful they would have stayed quietly at home. 
The stars disapproved of the enterprise and predicted 
the fatal end, but the astrologer misunderstood their 
language and thought he read encouragement where 
he should have seen threats ; the ignorance or folly of 
the servant led to the ruin of the master. 

In Egypt the majority of the books relating to 
science are sacred works composed and revealed by the 
gods themselves.* The Assyrians do not attribute 
such a lofty origin to the works which teach them the 
courses and explain the influences of the stars : they 
believe them to have been written by learned men, 
who lived at different epochs, and who acquired their 
knowledge from direct observation of the heavens. 
Their most ancient astronomers, through contemplating 
the army of stars every night, thought they recognised 
that each of their evolutions and each of their groups 
corresponded with certain unvarying phenomena and 
events upon the earth. For instance, if Jupiter rises, 

* See above, chap, vii., the divine origin of the books upon 
medicine used in Egypt. 


shining with a brilliancy that equal- the daylight, and 
its disk, owing to the arrangement of the gloomy bands 
which cross it, resembles a double-edged sword, wealth 
and abundance reign in the whole country, discords are 
soothed, and justice prevails over iniquity. The first 
man who observed this coincidence was struck by it 
and made a note of it; those who followed proved that 
his observation was correct, and ended by deducing a 
general law of the facts accumulated upon this point 
during many years. The brilliancy and the particular 
aspect of Jupiter which they described was henceforth 
' a favourable augury which promised happiness to land- 
owners and to all the land that depended upon them. 
During the time that it lasts, no foreigner will rule in 
Chaldea, but tyranny is divided against itself, justice 
reigns, a strong sovereign will govern. The land- 
owners and the king are firmly established in their 
rights, and obedience and tranquillity reign in the 

The number of these observations multiplied so 
quickly that it became necessary to class them methodi- 
cally so as to avoid losing oneself amongst them. 
Tablets were soon arranged, which registered by the 
side of the indications giving the state of the sky on 
certain nights, at certain hours, the record of the events 
that followed at the same time, or soon afterwards, in 
Chaldea, Assyria, and foreign lands. For instance, 
the astrologers are convinced that if the moon has the 
same appearance upon the 1st and the 28th of the 
month, it is a bad omen for Syria, whilst if it is visible 
upon the 20th, it predicts happiness for Chaldea and 
misfortune for Assyria. ' If it nears the same aspect 
on the 1st and the 27th, Elam should tremble; but if 
the sun, when it sets, should appear double its normal 
size, with three sheaves of bluish rays, the king is 
lost.' All these observations were collected gradually, 
the uncertain ones were verified, the false ones elimi- 
nated, and from what remained a code was drawn up of 


the signs which predict and regulate human destinies. 
The old Sargon of Argane, who reigned more than 
twenty centuries ago,* methodically arranged all the 
information acquired up to his reign in a great work, 
which Assurbanipal has caused to be copied for his 
library, and which fills no less than seventy clay tablets. 
The book was retouched under his son, Naramsin, then 
rearranged from time to time, so that the progress of 
the science has been always recorded up to date. Now 
it is the great classic work upon the subject ; its 
authority is unquestioned, and reference to it closes all 
controversies. Whenever one of the royal astronomers 
is asked to explain an ordinary phenomenon or a 
celestial prodigy, his first care is to refer to the tablet 
of Sargon ; if it is found there ninety- nine times out of 
a hundred, he contents himself with copying the passage 
which relates to the question put to him, adds his name, 
and forwards the quotation, often without daring to 
add a single word to it. The treasures of patience, 
courage, and ingenuity displayed by the old masters in 
the collecting of the materials for this great work, and 
in establishing a solid foundation for their theories, 
may fairly astonish us. Learned men of the present day 
acquire their knowledge far more easily. They only 
require well-trained eyes to discover in the sky the same 
combinations off stars that Sargon has described, and a 
good memory, so that they can immediately apply to 
their observations the passage in which the prognostics 
suitable to the occasion are enumerated at great length. 
The month of Tammuz is entirely passed in ma- 
terial and mystical preparation for the conflict ; a 
great many men have been convoked, a great many 
gods consulted. The army would be ready to start, 
but its departure is deferred, for the month of Ab, 
which has now commenced, is most unfavourable to the 
movements of the troops. The campaign will not 

* The reader must not forget that the events related in this narra- 
tive took place about 650 b.c. 


commence before the following month of Elul, which 
the calendars indicate as one of the most propitious 
for the opening of military operations. Besides Ab is 
consecrated to the great annual festivals celebrated in 
honour of Ishtar in the sanctuary of Arbela. Assur- 
banipal attends them in state with all his court. Every 
day he personally offers the sacrifice to the goddess ; 
every night from the summit of the seven-storied tower 
his astronomers search the depths of the heavens, 
and read there new signs of victory. The first 
tidings received from Elam confirm their predictions. 
Teumman has suddenly fallen ill ; his eyes are darkened, 
his lips blue, his heart has been seized by violent 
spasms. This is a final warning sent to him by Assur 
and Ishtar before striking the death-blow, and every 
one in Assyria takes it in this way, but Teumman paid 
no attention to the illness. As soon as he recovered he 
joined the army. It is well known, through the secret 
friends that his exiled nephews have retained in his 
court, that he uttered blasphemous words against Ishtar 
when he heard that his ambassadors had been arrested, 
and that he is quite resolved not to draw back until 
he has completely vanquished Assyria. 'This un- 
fortunate king,' he said, ' whom Ishtar has rendered 
mad, I will not let him go until I have gone up against 
her and have measured my strength against her.' 
Every one knows Assurbanipal's love for his goddess ; 
Teumman's insolence horrified him. The dispatch 
which informed him of the sacrilegious speech of his 
enemy, and which at the same time announced the 
entrance of the Elamite vanguard upon Assyrian 
territory, reached him in the evening long after sunset. 
He could not wait until the morrow to go and implore 
the pardon of his patroness for the insult she had 
suffered through her affection for him. He hurried to 
the temple in the middle of the night, penetrated to 
the sanctuary, and went straight to the prophetic statue. 
A single lamp burnt before it, and the uncertain light 


vaguely defined its motionless form, and left the re- 
mainder of the chamber in deep obscurity. The king 
fell weeping before the goddess and raised his hands : 
1 ( ) lady of Arbela ! I am Assurbanipal, the creature of 
the two hands, the creature of Assur, thy father, and 
you have created me that I may revive the sanctuaries of 
Assyria, and complete in their perfection the great cities 
in the land of Akkad. I have, therefore, come here 
to thy dwelling-place to visit thee and to adore thy 
divinity, when this Teumman, the king of Elam, who 
does not worship the gods, has risen against me, to 
fight against me. Thou art the lady of ladies, the 
queen of battles, the mistress of wars, the sovereign of 
the gods, wh >, in the presence of Assur, hast always 
spoken in my favour, to turn the hearts of Assur 
and of Merodach, thy companion, towards me. Now, 
Teumman, the king of Elam, has sinned grievously 
against Assur, the king of the gods, thy father, and 
against Merod ich, thy brother and thy companion, and 
even against me, Assurbanipal, who have always endea- 
voured to rejoice the heart of Assur and of Merodach; 
he has assembled his soldiers, he has started his army, 
and is now ready for war, he has demanded his weapons 
that he may march against Assyria. Thou, who art the 
archeress of the gods, throwing thy weight into the 
midst of battle, do thou cast him down, and pass over 
him, like the whirlwind of a noxious storm.' As in 
Egypt,* the divine statues in Assyria are animated by 
the spirit of the being they represent ; they hear, speak, 
and move. Ishtar was touched by the prayer offered by 
her favourite and by his sobs : ' Fear nothing,' she said 
to him, filling his heart with joy. 'Since thou hast 
come before me, since thine eyes are full of tears, I will 
pour my grace out upon thee.' The voice was then 
hushed, the silence which it had broken seemed more 
solemn than before, and the king finding himself alone 

* See pages 52 and 62 of this volume upon the prophetic statues 
of Egypt. 


under the doubtful light of the lamp, suddenly ex- 
perienced the fear produced by the presence of the 
divinity ; in the midst of his joy a shiver passed over 
him, and his blood curdled round his heart. Now that 
night, at the time that Assurbanipal was lamenting 
before the goddess, one of the seers of the temple had a 
dream. The sky is an open book which all may read ; 
the privilege of consulting it is not reserved for a few 
men only — it is the right of all. But the gods have a 
thousand means of revealing the future to the men 
whom they favour with their love or their hatred, and 
dreams form the one most often used. The dreams 
whicli usually cross the sleep of men resemble a nation 
of aerean figures sufficiently fluid to assume at their 
pleasure everj^ variety of form, and to change them as 
rapidly as they put them on ; they move, act, and speak, 
and their least movement, their least action, their lightest 
word, are secretly connected with the events that are 
preparing in the life of a man or of a nation. Sometimes 
these messages from above are conceived in a direct 
language, and do not require an interpreter ; future 
events are presented to our eyes without a veil. But 
usually they are expressed by symbols or allegories, and 
then a man versed in the art of interpreting them is 
required to unravel the eccentric or broken thread of 
their predictions. 

Like the astrologers, these divines have their 
official manuals ; the doctrine contained in them is 
also the result of observations collected by their pre- 
decessors in the course of ages. One of them, now 
in the library of Assurbanipal, teaches us what we 
must expect of fate if we dream of monstrous animals 
that unite the body of a bear, a dog, or a lion, to the 
paws of some other animal, dead fish, or a fish with 
birds. These are all fatal omens, and the dreamer 
should recite a prayer to the 8un as soon as he awakes, 
for the orb of day can weaken or even dissipate entirely 
the malignant influence. However spontaneous dreams 


may be, and however independent they appear to be of 
all human will, it is certain that they can be invoked 
by repeating certain prayers and submitting to certain 
rules. There are amulets which procure, for those who 
wear them, truthful dreams and the power of recollect- 
ing them after awakening. In solemn circumstances, 
the dreamer should prepare some days in advance by 
abstinence, fasting, and prayer, and should retire to 
an isolated room or into a temple to pass the night. 
Then, before sleeping, he mentally formulates the 
question to which he desires an answer, and if sleep 
does not come naturally, he produces it by narcotic 
beverages, mixed according to secret prescriptions of 
the divines. It then becomes a religious rite, that of 
the incubation, in which every moment is defined by 
severe rules, according to whether the gods in general 
are addressed, one god in particular, or merely the 
souls of the dead. The replies obtained would be 
absolutely reliable if the interpreters did not frequently 
mistake the value of the details which always accom- 
pany the principal episodes. From these mistakes 
arise many disillusions, of which the faithful complain 
bitterly, and which make them wrongly accuse the 
malignity of the gods. But the gods never refuse to 
send sincere dreams, when they are faithfully asked, 
according to the prescribed forms. Is it their fault if 
the senses of men are so dense that they cannot read 
their signification ? 

Most of the temples have their male and female 
seers, who are regularly attached to them, and whose 
duty consists in receiving the will of the god, either by 
direct revelation during the vigil, or indirectly through 
the medium of dreams. At Babylon a woman dwells 
on the summit of the many-storied tower, and waits 
each night for the visit of the god. In the temples of 
Ishtar, in that of Arbela, as in that of Nineveh, men 
sleep in the temple of the goddess. She manifested 
herself to one of them on the same night that the king 


prayed to her so urgently, and he related his vision in 
these words : ' Ishtar, who inhabits Arbela, came in 
before me. On her right and on her left side two 
quivers were hanging ; she held a bow in one hand, 
and in the other a heavy sword. She advanced towards 
thee, and spoke to thee like a mother. Ishtar. the first 
amongst the gods, said to thee in a tone of command, 
" Thou hast asked for victory ; where thou art, I will 
be also." Thou sayest unto her, " Can I go with thee 
where thou goest, sovereign of sovereigns?" Sl.e 
then answered, "Stay thou in the place consecrated to 
Nebo ; eat thy food, drink wine, let thy musicians play 
before thee and glorify thy name. For I will go down 
to the battle, I will accomplish my work, and thy face 
shall not pale, thy feet shall not stumble, thy beauty 
shall not fail in the midst of the battle." She hides 
thee in her bosom like a good mother, and wraps thee 
round on every side. A flame will issue from her for 
the destruction ot thine enemies, for she has turned 
her face against Teumman, the king of Elam, who is 
odious in her eyes.' 

If the oracle of the stars had allowed any doubts to 
remain, that which Ishtar has deigned to grant, through 
her seer, would remove them all. The blasphemies of 
Teumman have enraged the goddess; the war against 
Elam is henceforth her own war, and she will lead it 
herself. Assurbanipal need not even join the army 
Ishtar commands him to remain in his palace and 
enjoy a peaceful life, whilst she will take his place at 
the head of his troops and will lead them to victory. 
The words of the seer are promulgated through the 
cities, and fill Assyria with enthusiasm. The soldiers 
are equally delighted with the account of the vision. 
They are particularly aifected by the predictions. A 
bad omen disconcerts them, enervates their courage, 
and delivers them over to their enemies conquered in 
advance. Battalions, that would never hesitate to 
allow themselves to be killed to the last man in 


ordinary times, have frequently given way at the first 
onset when the predictions have been unfavourable. 
Their heart failed them at the idea that the powers 
above were not on their side, and the assurance that 
they risked their life for a cause already lost paralysed 
their arms. But if the stars are propitious, and the 
seers promise them support from the gods, they can be 
■relied upon to make any effort required of them. 
Success springs from their faith in the oracles, and 
the army is already more than half victorious that 
knows that its gods are fighting for it. 

And whilst the divinities of Assyria are thus arming 
for the conflict, those of Elam are displaying equal 
activity in their preparations. Interest would force 
them to do so, even if national pride were not also an 
incentive. The day upon which the Ninevite generals 
defeat their own generals will not only establish the 
supremacy of Nineveh and Assurbanipal over Teumman 
and Susiana, but that of Bel, Assur, and Ishtar over 
Susinag, who inhabits the depths of the mysterious 
woods, and who is present everywhere, though invisible 
to men, over Shoumoudou, over Lagamar, over Parti- 
kira, over Ammankaisbar, over Oudouran, over Sapak, 
and over all the divinities that the ancient kings 
have adored. Formerly they led their worshippers 
to the conquest of Chaldea, and placed a dynasty of 
Elamites upon the throne of Babylon ; since then they 
have suffered some checks, and have lost the territory 
that they had won, but up to the present they have 
always defended the independence of Elam and pre- 
served the booty which she had taken from the 
foreigners. The statue of the goddess Nanai, which 
they erected at Ourouk, is still in the great temple of 
Susa, where the king, Koudournankhoundi, placed it, 
more than sixteen centuries ago, upon his return home 
from his campaigns. There are a few undecided and 
timid men, even in the king's court, who fear the war, 
and counsel him against it. One of the sons of 


Teumman perpetually reminds his father of the great 
power of Assyria, and repeats to him as often as he 
dare, ' Do not hope for victory/ The generals and 
courtiers, as a rule, do not share his fears, and the gods 
do all in their power to excite the courage of their 
defenders. Their astronomers reply to the combinations 
of stars so favourable to Assyria, by other combinations 
which foretell the coming triumph of Elam. Their 
seers oppose their own visions to those of the seers of 
Ishtar, whom they accuse of falsehood, and the con- 
temptuous words which Teumman repeats respecting 
the goddess of Arbela are inspired by his confidence 
in the prophecies of his own priests. Their oracles 
pred ct the immediate fall of Assyria, the pillage of 
Nineveh, the captivity and death of Assurbanipal. 

The same rivalry occurs whenever war breaks out 
between the two nations; the battle of men is compli- 
cated by a battle of the gods. The gods dwell in the 
camp, invisible; they descend into the thickest of the 
right, they protect the chiefs with their own persons, 
and strike the enemy's generals when they can. 
Victors, they take the foreign gods as their prisoners 
and exact tribute from them; vanquished, in their turn, 
they bow to the law of the strongest. Their statues, 
treasures, and servants are taken from them, their 
temples are destroyed, their sacred woods cut down , 
they suffer slavery, perhaps death, like the people that 
adored them. 



Rapid march of the Assyrian army — Its arrival at Duril separates 
Elam from Chaldea — Teumman concentrates his army in front 
of Susa — Organization of the Assyrian army — The infantry — 
The war chariots — The cavalry — The Elamite army: its position 
at Tulliz — Battle of Tulliz — Death of Teumman — Registering 
the spoil — Surrender of Susa — Proclamation of Ummanigas as 
king of Susa, and of Tammaritu as king of Hidalu. 

The month of Ab is very fatal to armed expeditions, 
but the following month, Elul, is equally propitious, 
and as soon as it opens, the army commences its march. 
Elam is covered, upon the side nearest to Nineveh, by 
high, woody, almost impracticable mountains, inhabited 
by the half-barbarous tribes of the Kashshi. They 
could not be crossed without great sacrifices, and the 
Assyrians might leave half their army there before 
reaching the seat of war. They therefore usually 
attack Susiana by the south-western frontier, towards 
the spot where the waters of the Ouknou and the Ulai 
join those of the Tigris and the Euphrates. Even 
then the route is full of difficulties for the assailants. 
It is marshy, unhealthy, intersected with ponds, rivers, 
and canals, which interfere with the operations ; but 
at all events the invaders are in the very heart of the 
country as soon as the watery barrier is crossed. The 
army rapidly marches by the side of the Tigris, and 
ten days after starting has already reached the city of 
Duril. During the last century the great wars between 
Assyria and Elam have been waged at frequent in- 

THE WAR. 319 

tervals, and Duril has acquired an importance that no 
one could have foreseen. Here Sargon fought his first 
battle against Umbanigash, a hotl} r disputed field, in 
which each party claimed the victor}^. He fortified it, 
and established a garrison and a governor, to whom 
Sennacherib and Assurbanipal confided the administra- 
tion of a large territory. It is now the centre of an 
important road, which commands the lower course of 
the Tigris, and can interrupt, if it does not entirely cut 
off, the communications between Susa and Babylon. 

The rapidity with which all the preliminaries of 
the action have been carried out disconcerts Teumman, 
and ruins all his plans. He had counted upon a long 
delay, which would have given him time to negotiate 
with the Aramean tribes or the small Chaldean king- 
doms, and to excite them against Assyria. His 
manoeuvres have succeeded upon one point, for the 
people of Gambul have openly declared in his favour ; 
but the sudden apparition of the Assyrian vanguard 
cuts short his intrigues, and represses any symptoms 
of rebellion that might have appeared. The army is 
not commanded by the king in person. Assurbanipal 
has carefully obeyed the orders of Ishtar. He remains 
in his palace at Arbela, and forgets his anxiety in the 
midst of festivals and banquets. The Tartan of the 
right, Belnahid,* leads the campaign under the in- 
spiration of the goddess, and, by his side, the Elamite 
princes command a large number of refugees. As 
they pass through the country, they proclaim that 
they do not come as enemies to place the land under 
a foreign rule, but as allies, who wish to reinstate the 
legitimate heirs upon the throne ; and this declaration 
brings thousands of partisans to their assistance 
Teumman, abandoned by the allies whom he thought 

* The texts do not give us the name of the personage who led the 
campaign against Elam. As Belnahid was in high office at this 
epoch, I have placed him in command, to avoid the frequent repetition 
of the title of Tartan. 

320 THE WAR. 

he had secured at the first sign of the arrival of the 
Assyrians, cannot rely upon the fidelity even of his 
own subjects. At the least failure, the revolution will 
break out, and he will be lost. Since he has but one 
battle to fight, he wishes to engage in it under the 
most favourable circumstances. He recalls the troops 
that he had scattered along the frontier, join to 
them the new contingents, and thus forms a large 
army, which he concentrates in the village of Tulliz, 
before Susa. The position is • admirably chosen ; it 
entirely masks the approaches to the capital, and com- 
mands the city itself, where the partisans of the old 
kings are beginning to stir. It also covers the roads 
which lead to Madaktu, in the upper part of the 
country. If successful, Teumman will regain all that 
he has been forced to abandon at a single blow ; 
defeated, he can still take refuge in the mountains 
and there prolong his resistance. 

The Assyrian army is the best - organized war 
machine that the world has yet seen. The Egyptians 
themselves, at the time of their greatest power under 
Thothmes III. and Rameses II., never disposed of 
troops so well drilled and, above all, so well equipped.* 
The art of the blacksmith and of the armourer has 
made so much progress since that date, that their best 
troops would have little chance of success if they were 
opposed to Assyrian soldiers. It is the superiority of 
weapons, not any superiority in courage and discipline, 
that has secured to the Ninevite kings since Sargon 
the priority over the Pharaohs of the Delta of Thebes 
and Meroe. Whilst the Egyptians, as a rule, still 
fight without any protection except the shield, the 
Assyrians are, so to speak, clothed in iron from head 
to foot. Their heavy infantry is composed of spear- 
men and archers, wearing a conical cap ornamented 
with two side pieces which protect the ears, a leather 
shirt covered with overlapping metal scales which 
* Upon the equipment of the Egjptian soldiers see p. 81. 

THE WAR. 321 

protect the chest and the upper part of the arms, 
cotton drawers falling to the shins, close-fitting 
breeches, and boots laced in front. The spearmen 
carry spears six feet long, with an iron or bronze 
head, a short sword passed through their belt, and an 
immense metal shield, sometimes round and convex, 
sometimes rounded at the top and square at the 
bottom. The archers have no shields ; they replace 
the spear by a bow and quiver, which hang over their 
back. Their light infantry also includes some spear- 
men, but they wear a helmet with a curved crest, and 
are provided with a small round wicker-work shield. 
The archers have no breastplate, and are associated 
either with slingers or with soldiers armed with clubs 
and double-edged axes. 

The spearmen and archers of the line are usually 
of Assyrian origin, or levied in the territories that 
have been subject to Assyria for a long time ; the 
other troops are often recruited amongst tributary 
nations, and they \v r ear their national costumes. They 
are arranged in companies, and manoeuvre with a 
regularity which foreigners themselves admire. As 
early as the reigns of Sargon and Sennacherib, one of 
the most celebrated Hebrew prophets, that Isaiah who 
advised King Hezekiah in his war against Assyria, was 
astonished at their good discipline. ' None shall be 
weary or stumble amongst them ; none shall slumber 
nor sleep ; neither shall the girdle of their loins be 
loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken/ 
They march with extraordinary rapidity, leaving no 
stragglers or lame men behind them as they go, and 
their generals are not afraid to impose fatigues upon 
them to which tne soldiers of other lands w r ould 
quickly succumb. They either ford the rivers or swim 
across them upon inflated skins. In wooded countries, 
each company sends forward a certain number of pio- 
neers, who fell the trees and clear a path. 

The cavalry are divided into two corps, the chariot 
22 __ 

322 THE WAR. 

soldiers and the regular cavalry. The Assyrian war- 
chariot is much heavier and more massive than the 
Egyptian.* The wheels are high and thick, they have 
eight spokes. The body, which rests upon the axle, is 
square in front ; the panels are full, sometimes covered 
with metal plates, or more often painted or decorated 
with incrustations. The pole is long, thick, curved at 
the end, with an ornament in wood or chased metal — 
a flower, rosette, lion's head, or horse's head. Each 
chariot is drawn by two horses, sometimes a third 
horse is fastened to their flank, but it does not usually 
draw, it is intended to replace one of its companions 
in case of an accident or a wound. The horses are 
harnessed rather lightly, and sometimes wear a kind 
of armour in thick cloth, which covers their back, 
chest, neck, and the top of the head ; the pieces are 
fastened together by tags. Each chariot contains 
three men — a coachman who drives, standing to the 
left, a warrior with a bow or spear, and a groom, who 
protects his two comrades, but particularly the warrior, 
with a round shield. Sometimes there is a second 
groom. Their equipment is similar to that of the 
infantry, the cuirass of metal scales, the helmet, the 
bow, and the lance. This small troop has sometimes 
a standard, round which it rallies during the battle. 
A staff of medium height is placed in front of the 
chariot between the soldier and the coachman ; at the 
top is a reversed crescent or a disk supported by two 
bulls' heads ; it is decorated by two bulls, and by a 
standing figure of Assur shooting an arrow (Fig. 153). 
Like the Egyptian chariots, the Assyrians always 
charge in a regular line, and there are few troops in 
the world that can resist their first shock. When a 
battalion of the enemy sees them coming, rapid and 
light, their darts pointed, their bows strung, they 
usually disband immediately after the first volley of 
arrows, and run away. The line is then broken, and 
* See for the Egyptian chariot, p. 82. 



the chariots disperse over the plain, crushing the fugi- 
tives beneath their wheels, and trampling them under 
their horses' feet. Each chariot forms a movable fort, 
with a sufficient garrison not only for fighting within 
the walls, but for making a sortie if necessary. The 
warrior gets down, kills 
a wounded man, cuts off 
a head ; or, placing him- 
self in front of his 
horses, well covered by 
his grooms, he takes 
leisurely aim at some 
leader of the enemy, hits 
him, then remounts and 
continues his course. 

Formerly the chariots 
were very numerous in 
the Assyrian armies. 
They are less used at 
the present day, but tra- 
dition gives them the 
post of honour, and the 
king or the chief general 
always reserves for him- 
self the privilege of lead- 
ing them into the fight. 
It is the distinguished 
branch of the service, 
the one in which the 
princes and great nobles 
prefer to serve, and its 
weight often decides the 
fate of the battle. 

Yet now the cavalry commences to rival it, if not in 
numbers, at least in importance. It has not been long in 
use, and the old Assyrian kings, like the Pharaohs of the 
great epoch, were unacquainted with its capacity. Tig- 
lath-Pileser I., Assur-nasir-pal, and Shalmaneser III. 

Fig. 153. — An Assyrian Standard. 



had a few cavalry, but they used them more as mes- 
sengers than as combatants. Sargon and Sennacherib 
were really the first to handle them in great masses, 
and to entrust them with an important part in their 
strategy. The horse was at first ridden barebacked ; 
now it is covered with one cloth, or with a complete 
caparison similar to that of the chariot horses. All the 
cavalry wear helmets and cuirasses like the infantry of 
the line, but they have no shields ; they replace the 
floating petticoat by cotton drawers. One half of them 

Fig. 154. — Assyrian Cavalry charging: the Servant leads the 
Archer's Horse. 

carries the sword and lance, the other half is armed 
with a bow and sword. The lance is eight or nine feet 
long, the bow is shorter than the bow used by the 
infantry, and the arrows are scarcely three feet long. 
Formerly each mounted archer was accompanied by a 
servant, mounted like himself, who led his horse during 
the battle so as to leave both his hands free (Fig. 154). 
The art of riding has made so much progress during 
the last few years that the servant has become useless, 
and has disappeared from the armies. Now lancers 
and bowmen are all trained to guide their steed by the 
pressure of the knees, and they may be seen galloping 
with flying reins, shooting their arrows as they go, or 

THE WAR. 325 

else, halting suddenly, they quietly discharge the arrow, 
then turn and gallop off again. 

It is said that in the last war between the Cim- 
merians and the Lydians troops of cavalry charged 
each other at full gallop, then mingled and fought 
hand to hand, iike regiments of infantry, until the 
flight of the weakest or the least brave. The Assyrian 
cavalry have not yet had the opportunity of trying this 
manoeuvre, for the nations with whom it usually fights 
have only chariots to bring against it. It charges the 
infantry, is invaluable in the fight and the pursuit, and 
reconnoitres on the march of an army. It is then sent 
some distance in front of the mass of the troops, to 
search the woods, discover ambushes, examine the posi- 

Fig. 155.— Assyrian Cavalry fighting in a Mountainous Country. 

tion of the enemy, and point out the practicable roads 
and the fords in the rivers. Sennacherib, who often 
made war in mountainous and woody countries, in the 
Taurus and Armenia, on the borders of Media and 
Elam, owed part of his success to the judicious use 
which he made of his lancers and mounted archers. 
Their unexpected movements, the rapidity and length 
of their rides, dismayed the barbarians, who saw them 
appear at several points at the same time, as though 
sprung out of the ground, when they thought them 
still a long way off (Fig. 155). Dangerous passes were 
crossed, villages pillaged, crops burnt or trampled by 
the horses almost before the presence of the enemy was 



suspected, and when help came they were already far 
from all pursuit. If a certain number of miners and 
engineers trained in the construction and handling 
of machinery be added to the cavalry, we have a com- 
plete enumeration of the elements of an Assyrian army. 
The proportion of the different services is always about 
the same. There is, on an average, one hundred foot 
soldiers to every ten cavalry and every single chariot ; 
the infantry is really queen of the Assyrian battles. 

The Elamite army is organized in the same fashion 
as its rival, or nearly so. It has also chariots, cavalry, 

T/fJc^- >»»»~. 

Fig. 156.— Elamite War-chariot. 

and infantry, but the cavalry are neither as numerous 
nor as well drilled as the Assyrian troops, and the 
chariots contain fewer men. Many of them have no 
body, but consist of a simple platform, upon which the 
soldiers sit or stand ; they look more like luggage-carts 
than war-chariots (Fig. 156). One part of the infantry, 
recruited from the plains, is equipped like the Assyrian 
archers and spearmen (Fig. 157). The remainder is 
less well armed. They have no cuirass, but a simple 
tunic with a short skirt, and in the hair a ribbon with 
the two ends falling over the neck. In spite of this 
material inferiority, courage, vigour, skill, and tenacity 



render the Elamites formidable enemies. They are 
seldom routed, and, when defeated, the victory has 
always exhausted the victor so 
much that he has been unable to 
profit by his advantage, and has 
retired from the battle-field in 
almost the same condition as 
the vanquished. 

The Tartan, who has proved 
their military qualities, minutely 
examines their position before the 
battle. Their line of defence is 
skilfully chosen. It extends from 
the shores of the Ouknou to those 
of the canal which passes before 
the citadel of Susa and serves as 
a moat against an enemy coming 

from Assyria. In the centre the village of Tulliz forms 
a solid background to the masses of infantry, whilst 
behind, a large wood of palm-trees is ready to receive 

Fig. 157.— Elamite 


Fig. 158.— The City of Susa. 

the fugitives in case of defeat and to hinder the pursuit. 
A long line of crenellated walls, bristling with towers, 
is clearly defined on the horizon above the tops of the 
trees; these are the ramparts of Susa (Fig. 158). The 

328 THE WAR. 

city ; built upon an artificial mound, like all the cities 
of Assyria arid Chaldea, dominates the plain, and is 
visible at a great distance. To the south and east, 
immense gardens, watered by canals carefully kept in 
repair, make a border of foliage. Thick gloomy woods 
extend towards the north. The profane are forbidden 
to enter them, for the gods of Elam dwell there, in the 
mysterious chapels to which only the priests and kings 
have access. From time to time their images are 
carried to the town to receive some act of solemn public 
worship, then return to their retreats, amidst the devo- 
tion of the whole nation. No one amongst the people 
knows what passes behind the curtains of the first 
trees, what bloody ritual or what voluptuous mysteries 
are celebrated there. After each successful war a part 
of the spoil is carried there which never reappears ; 
statues of the enemy's gods, precious vases, blocks of 
gold or silver, furniture, and stuffs. More than one 
object has been deposited there for twenty centuries, the 
spoil from Ourouk, Sippar, Babylon, and the more 
ancient Chaldean cities being stored pell-mell with the 
trophies more recently taken from the Assyrians. The 
mausoleums of the old kings are built in the same 
neighbourhood ; some of them are still in a good state 
of preservation, others already damaged by the action 
of time. No history could be more tragic than theirs, 
for treason and murder have made and unmade kings 
in Elam with, perhaps, more rapidity than anywhere 
else, and there are few of the sovereigns united in this 
corner of earth who do not sleep in a bloody tomb. If 
w T e only take recent years, Susa has changed her master 
seven times in half a century, and three out of these 
seven sovereigns have been assassinated. 

Teumman is surrounded by traitors, and he knows 
it. Simburus, one of his most powerful vassals, has 
already abandoned him, and has joined the Assyrian 
camp with his men ; Umbakidinni, chief of one of the 
tribes of the mountain, has surprised Istarnandi, the 

THE WAR. 329 

viceroy of Hidalu, upon the upper course of the Ulai ; 
has cut off his head awl has carried it to the Tartan in 
token of submission. However, the Susians will not 
allow themselves to be affected by these successive 

Fig. 159. — The remnant of the Elamite Army thrown into the River. 

defections, and they receive the Assyrians' charge with 
their usual resolution. The battle commences by the 
exchange of volleys of arrows ; then the war-chariots 

330 THE WAR. 

rush against each other, and meet several times without 
any result. One last charge, led by the exiled princes, 
at last breaks down the resistance of the Elamites ; the 
uninjured Susian chariots disperse over the plain, the 
cavalry follows them in their retreat, and the infantry, 
influenced by their example, quickly disbands. One 
part of the soldiers hides in the wood, the other, 
driven back into the canal, tries to discover a ford, or 
to cross it by swimming to gain shelter under the 
ramparts of Susa. (Fig. 159). The whole plain is 
strewn with broken chariots, quivers, bows, lances, the 
corpses of men and horses. Here a group of archers 
still tries to resist the cavalry who harass it ; further 
on, a wounded chief, ready to fall from his horse, raises 
his hand to sue for mercy from an archer who is aiming 
at him. A foot soldier strikes down a kneeling Susian 
with his club ; others cut of the head of the enemy 
they have killed, and carry it away as a trophy. All 
the wounded who can still stand upright are hurrying 
away as fast as they can ; those who are no longer able 
to walk, try to find a bush or a ditch in which they can 
hide until nightfall ; it is their sole chance of life, and 
heaven knows it is a very slight one! Every head cut 
off brings praise and part of the spoil to the soldier 
who brings it in ; the victors, therefore, carefully 
search the field of battle, examining the long grass 
and the ridges of land, as though seeking ordinary 
game. The birds of prey have already assembled over 
the field, ready to commence their odious meal. The 
canal is full of mutilated bodies and of drifting 
chariots ; the Assyrian archers, standing upon the 
bank, shoot at the men still struggling in the water, 
and very few of the fugitives succeed in reaching the 
other side. The prophets and seers of Nineveh were 
right in predicting a victory. Tshtar has kept her 
promise, and Elam is at the feet of Assyria. Teumman, 
seeing the battle lost, escapes through the wood with 
two of his sons and his most faithful generals. He 

THE WAR. 331 

sends one of them, Ituni, to the Assyrian general to 

demand an honourable capitulation — not that he thinks 

that he will obtain it, but he hopes to stop the pursuit 

and gain a little time. Ituni did not even obtain 

a hearing, and in his rage broke his Lew with his 

sword at the moment that the soldier v ho had taken 

him raised the sword to behead him. A few minutes 

later one of Teumman's cousins, named Uitaku, was 

pierced by an arrow and fell ; as he rose an Assyrian 

rushed upon him, raising his club. Urtaku did not lose 

courage in this supreme moment. ' Come/ he said, ' cut 

off my head and carry it to the feet of your master : 

may it prove a good omen/ Then he bent his head for 

the fatal blow. However, Teumman's chariot had 

broken against a tree ; his horses were too sorely 

wounded to carry him, or had already escaped ; his 

faithful friends had been killed one after the other : 

alone, with one of his sons, he was slowly retiring on 

foot. From time to time he turned to shoot an arrow, 

and his proud carriage and sure aim discouraged the 

enemy ; perhaps he might have escaped and found 

shelter if his nephew, Tammaritu, had not perceived 

him, and at once pursued him with some Susian exiles 

and Ninevite spearmen. An arrow hit him in the 

right leg and he fell upon 

one knee. Seeing that 

he was lost, he wished 

that at least he should 

not die unavenged. He 

pointed Tammaritu out 

to his son, and in a 

despairing voice cried, 

'Shoot!' (Fig. 160). 

The shot failed, a flight 

of arrows disabled the 

m ., Fig. 160. — Death of leumraan 

two men ; lammaritu 

himself cut off his uncle's head and joyfully carried it 





When he returned to the camp the battle was 
entirely ended. A few detachments still hurried over 
the plain, collecting the Assyrian dead and wounded, 
picking up the weapons, and methodically spoiling the 
bodies of the enemy ; the remainder of the army had 
already returned to its former position. The camp was 
full of soldiers staunching their wounds or those of 
their comrades, cleaning or straightening their weapons, 
congratulating themselves upon having escaped death 
this once more, or lamenting the fall of a friend. 
Those prisoners whom it was deemed advisable to keep 
were already standing on one side, guarded by sentinels. 
The execution of the others was continued without a 

Fig. 161.— Eeception and Registration of the Heads. 

pause ; they were made to kneel in long rows, their 
backs to the executioner, their heads bowed so that a 
single blow of the club broke their skulls. The scribes 
standing in their large tents registered the heads cut 
off ; every soldier 'brought some, threw them upon the 
common heap, then dictated his name, mentioned his 
company, and retired cheered by the hope of a recom- 
pense suited to the number of his victims (Fig. 161). 
The kings of Assyria delight in these hideous trophies. 
When they accompany the army they preside over the 
reception of the heads and distribute the prizes allotted 
to the soldiers ; when absent, if the heads cannot all 
be sent to them, they insist upon seeing those of the 
principal chiefs. Teumman's head, presented to Bel- 
nahid, was by his orders carried all round the camp in 



one of the chariots taken during the battle (Fig. 162), 
then embalmed and sent to the palace of Arbela by an 
express courier ; as to the corpse, it was left in the 
wood, and in a few days the birds or the beasts of prey 
will have devoured it. 

If Susa opens her gates to-morrow and accepts the 
new sovereign offered by Assyria, Ummanigas, the son 
of Urtaki, the battle of Tulliz will suffice to end the 
war. If, on the other hand, she acknowledges one of 
Teumman's sons as her master, the struggle will re- 
commence, and the gods themselves scarcely know when 
and how it will end. Elam has almost unlimited re- 

Fig. 162. — Teumman's Head carried through the Assyrian Camp. 

sources in men and in captains. As soon ns one army 
is destroyed, others can be formed equally numerous 
and equally determined to fight. One kiii^- is killed, 
another rises in his place and returns to ihe charge, 
without allowing the fate of his predecessor's or his 
own danger to influence him in any way. Yet this 
once the partisans of peace carry the day in Susa, and 
the friends of the exiled princes decide the population 
to proclaim Ummanigas. Early the following morning 
the Assyrian guards see a long procession issue from 
the gates of Susa and slowly proceed towards Tulliz ; 
it is a deputation of the army, the nobles, and the 
people, coming to ask for their sovereign 1'rom the 
victor. Several members of the royal family are at 



its head, in festival robes, without their weapons. The 
archers come next with their bows, the quiver on one 
shoulder, the poignard in the belt ; then follows an 
empty chariot led by a groom on horseback, the chariot 
for the new king. The priests and singers of the gods 
march behind, beating the time with their feet, and 
filling the air with the sound of harps and flutes. A 
choir of children follows them, singing a hymn under 
the direction of the sacred eunuchs (Fig. 163). 

The plain has been nearly cleared since the evening, 
and the traces of the battle have almost disappeared ; 
but the canal is still full of corpses, chariots, broken 

Fig. 163.— The Elamite Musicians marching to meet the Assyrians. 

weapons, and rubbish. The painful spectacle contrasts 
strangely with the festival dresses and songs of the 
procession advancing upon its banks. Belnahid receives 
the chiefs of the deputation in the front of his army, 
and listens to their request from his chariot. He sum- 
mons Ummanigas and Tammaritu to come before him, 
and makes them -wear by their gods and by the gods 
of Nineveh to be always faithful allies of Assyria, never 
to conspire with the sovereigns of Babylon or with the 
princes of the Aramean tribes, and to avoid any action 
which could injure the interests or glory of Assur- 
banipal. The oath taken, he descends from his chariot, 
and taking them by the hand proclaims Ummanigas 
king of Susa and Madaktu, and Tammaritu king of 



Hidalu, then he presents them to their new subjects. 
The princes and warriors fall down before them and 
salute them, whilst the musicians play and sing louder 
than before (Fig. 164). Elam, that on the previous 
evening had been content with one king, now possesses 
two, and ere long jealousy and ambition will cause 
them to turn against each other. Assurbanipal and 
his minister expect this : internal dissensions and 
the weakness of her neighbours assure the security 
of Assyria. Whilst the two kings and their escort 
solemnly enter Susa amidst the shouts of the crowd, 
a long line of prisoners leaves the camp and commences 

Fig. 164. — The Assyrian General presents Ummanigas to the Elamites. 

its sorrowful journey towards the north. Several are 
almost certainly doomed to torture and death ; these 
are the generals, governors of the city, and the nobles 
who have most distinguished themselves by their 
courage, who are being led in chains before the king, 
and whom he rarely spares or forgives. A larger 
number have been allotted to the soldiers or to the 
public treasury. Amongst them are a few men, but 
the majority are women and children, who will be sold 
as slaves, or serve in the house of the master to whom 
the fortune of war has delivered them. The majority 
are reserved for a milder fate, and are less prisoners 
than enforced colonists. Assurbanipal wishes to re- 



populate two or three Syrian cities that he has lately 
sacked, and he has charged his generals to take him a 
few thousand Elamites. They travel in bands, under 
the superintendence of a soldier, the men carrying a 
small bag of provisions, which is no inconvenience to 
them, the women carrying their children in their arms 

Fig. 165. — Prisoners going to Assyria. 

or upon their shoulders (Fig. 1 '*>;*>). Herds of cattle, 
goats, and sheep accompany them. The luggage and 
the sick follow in chariots drawn by mules or oxen. 
Many die on the road of fatigue and misery, obliged as 
they are to sleep in the open air upon the bare ground. 
Those who reach the end of the journey receive a house, 
cornfields, gardens, and vines; their first sorrow calmed, 
they are perhaps richer and happier than in their own 




The land of Gambul and the Arameans of the Euphrates — The 
marshes — Bit-Iakin and the emigration of its population in the 
time of Sennacherib — - The fleet of Sennacherib and the two 
elements of which it is composed: the Phoenician galleys — Em- 
barkment, crossing the sea — The war in the marshes — The city of 
Sapihel — The blockade — Sapping the walls — The war machines : 
the ram and the rolling towers — Capture and destruction of the city. 

The campaign is ended in Elam, but it continues in 
the land of Gambul, where the King Dunanu and Prince 
Nabuzuili still resist the Assyrian armies. Gambul is 
one of the numerous small Aramean States which have 
established themselves at the mouths of the Tigris and 
Euphrates, half in the marshes, half upon dry land. 
That portion of the population that lives upon dry 
ground is almost identical with the Chaldeans in 
language and customs. They worship the same gods, 
obey the same laws, wear the same costume, and follow 
the same industries ; yet the national character is 
affected by the vicinity of Elam, and is rougher and 
more warlike. On the other hand the inhabitants of 
the marshes are barbarians that live on the produce of 
fishing and hunting. Like the Delta of the Nile, that 
of the Tigris pnd Euphrates is an immense plain, always 
being increased at the expense of the sea by alluvial 
deposits. Where the soil is sufficiently raised above 
the usual level of the floods, cultivation has conquered, 
and wrests from it two good harvests every year. The 
cities, placed upon artificial mounds, are surrounded by 
evergreen gardens ; date- trees and acacias grow along 


the canals ; wheat-fields extend in all directions, inter- 
sected by damp meadows, where innumerable herds of 
cattle graze peacefully. Where the soil is below the 
level of the river, the aspect is perhaps more desolate 
than that of the marshes of the Nile. Foul, stagnant 
water, half covering a thick black mud, sandy islands 
in seas of mud, here and there woody hillocks or 
plateaus of pure healthy ground, and over all a spon- 
taneous growth of aquatic plants — water-lilies, reeds, 
horsetails, gigantic rushes — so thick and so strong that 
a man can scarcely force his way between their stems. 
Sparse squares of small, badly grown wheat in the 
glades, these are the fields. A collection of huts upon 
some of the highest points, these are the villages. It 
does not take long nor cost much to build them. 
Bunches of reeds are tied together, then bent and 
placed against each other so as to form arches ; mats 
hung over this rudimentary framework, then covered 
with mud, form the walls. The inhabitants go from 
village to village upon flat-bottomed boats, which they 
manage with poles. They have hidden dens, where, 
in case of war, they and their families can take refuge, 
abandoning their homes to the mercy of the invader. 
To reach them it becomes necessary to enter one of the 
narrow canals, bordered with thickets, each perhaps 
containing an ambush ; to cross the moving bogs, where 
horses and pedestrians risk being engulfed, and to 
brave the poiso'nous fevers which rise from the stagnant 
waters — and all this trouble is merely to carry off a few 
thin cattle, or take one or two dozen prisoners. What 
an end for the veterans who have safely encountered 
the dangers of twenty battles fought in the mountains 
of Armenia or Commagenia, in the plains of Chaldea 
or Elam, upon the banks of the Nile or the shores of 
the Mediterranean, to at last be drowned in the liquid 
mud of a marsh, or to fall ignominiously between two 
bunches of reeds under the blows of a semi-savage ! 
Bit-Iakin was formerly the most important of these 


small states. From there came Merodach Baladan to 
conquer Babylon and resist three great kings of Assyria; 
there he returned in his old age like a boar at bay, 
who, after a long chase, returns to his lair to face the 
hunters. Continually pursued by Sennacherib, de- 
spairing of a successful resistance, he preferred ex- 
patriation to submission : he assembled his faithful 
servants, carried his gods with him, crossed the sea 
where the Euphrates flows into it, and established 
himself at Nagidu, upon the coast of Elam. With 
any other king than Sennacherib he would have been 
safe. In fact, the Assyrian kings feared the sea for 
many years, and would not willingly venture upon it ; 
moreover, they had not been acquainted with it very 
long, except by hearsay, through the descriptions which 
the Chaldeans or the peoples of Syria gave of it. When 
their victories led them to the shores of the Mediter- 
ranean, they admired its beauty and enjoyed the plea- 
sure of sailing upon it, but prudently abstained from 
venturing too far from the land. Sennacherib then 
conceived the bold project, unheard-of before, of em- 
barking his army upon a fleet and going in search of 
the exiles of Bit-Iakin at Nagidu. The execution of 
this plan offered difficulties which would have dis- 
couraged a prince of less adventurous spirit The only 
ships at his disposal in those districts belonged to 
Chaldean states of but doubtful fidelity, and it would 
not be prudent to entrust the fate of a king of Nineveh 
and his troops to their care. Their vessels also were 
arks of ancient form, heavy, round, bad seaboats, very 
similar to those built in ancient times under Sargon 
the elder and his son Naramsin. Now Sennacherib, 
during his wars in Judea, had seen the sailors of Sidon, 
and the progress which the Sidonians had made in the 
art of ship-building, besides the skill with which they 
handled their sea-horsrs* He had not much difficulty 
in finding amongst his prisoners a sufficiently large 
* The Phoenicians called their vessels by this name. . 



number of Phoenicians to construct a fleet. He estab- 
lished two ship-building yards, one at Til-Barsip upon 
the Euphrates, where they used the woods from 
Amanus and Lebanon, and the other upon the Tigris, 
at Nineveh itself, for the woods from Kurdistan. 

The ships built in them were of different forms. 
At Til-Barsip, where the Phoenician element pre- 
dominated, the style was Phoenician ; at Nineveh it 
was Chaldean, modified by the Phoenician. The type 
selected was the most perfect known at that date, the 
galley, a vessel with a double row of oars one above 

Fig. 166. — A Phoenician Galley. 

the other (Fig. 166). The hull was long, low in the 
water, with a round keel. The poop, raised very high, 
was curved back upon itself like the ancient Egyptian 
galleys.* The front, upright and flat, was armed with 
a sharp spur, strongly fitted to the keel, which served 
to pierce the enemy's ships. The two lines of rowers 
were placed horizontally one above the other. The first 
rested their oars upon the gunnels, the others passed 
theirs through portholes opened in the side of the vessel. 
A bridge supported by vertical posts passed from one 

* For the description and figure of the Egyptian galleys, see p. 166, 


end to the other, forming an upper deck reserved for 
the soldiers and the remainder of the crew ; round 
shields suspended upon light woodwork formed a kind 
of bulwark the full length of the ship. The mast, 
upright in the centre of the bridge, was embedded in 
the keel; it was held in place by two stays, which 
started from the top and were fastened to the front 
and back. The square sail was supported by a yard 
which could be raised or lowered at will. The ships 
of the other type had no spur, but had very high 
curves both in front and behind, and the prow was 
ornamented with a horse's head, which justified the 
name of the sea-horse. They had no masts, but were 
decked. They were propelled by a double row of oars 
one above the other. These were old vessels trans- 
formed into galleys. 

The two divisions of the fleet were then ordered to 
meet at Bab-Salimeti, upon the Euphrates, at a little 
distance from the sea. The squadron of Til-Barsip at 
once descended the river, which is always navigable, 
and the voyage was accomplished without any diffi- 
culty.* The Ninevite squadron left the Tigris at Opis, 
to avoid the camps of the Aramean allies of Elam, 
always more or less hostile even when nominally at 
peace with Assyria. It then entered the grand canal 
of Arakhtu, which unites the Tigris to the Euphrates 
and crosses Babylon. The canal had been neglected 
for some time, and though it sufficed for irrigation and 
the passage of small boats, the mud was very deep in 
some places, and vegetation was so thick that it formed 
a serious obstacle to the passage of large vessels. 
However, all these difficulties were overcome, aud the 
journey from Babylon to Bab-Salimeti was only a 
question of days. On its way each division had 
embarked the troops it was to carry, men and horses, 

* I remember that Alexander, the same year that he died, caused 
a Phoenician fleet to be built at Thapsus, which descended the 
Euphrates to its mouth. 


chariots, provisions, the siege machines necessary for a 
campaign which might last for some time. Senna- 
cherib joined the fleet with his guard, and encamped 
upon the banks of the river. This was an imprudence 
which he would never have committed had he known 
more about the sea. The tides, although unknown to 
the Mediterranean, are very strong in the Gulf of 
Chaldea, and are felt some distance up the country. 
Their effects are particularly dangerous during the 
equinoctial periods, when the tides are very high. The 
waves then ascend and meet the current of the river ; 
the shock of the two strong waters contending as they 
meet shakes the banks, carries them away, breaks 
down the dykes erected for the defence of the country, 
and inundates all the surrounding districts. This 
annual event occurred during the voyage of the 
Assyrians, much to their terror and loss. Their tents 
were flooded and overthrown by the waves, the king 
and his guard were forced to take hasty refuge upon 
the ships, and to remain there for five days, ' like 
prisoners in a large cage/ 

Sennacherib then perceived, though rather late, 
that he had omitted to celebrate the propitiatory rites, 
without which it is not prudent to approach the Ocean, 
and he attributed his misfortune to the displeasure of 
the gods. As soon as the waters had retired he 
descended to the spot where the river loses itself in 
the sea, and standing upon the prow of the admiral's 
galley, he offered a sacrifice to the supreme god, Hea. 
The traditions of the Chaldeans relate that when the 
Babylonians still lived in a state of barbarism, like the 
beasts of the fields, H< a issued from the waves, in the 
form of a fish's head and a man's body, or some say, 
of a man wearing a hVh's skin, and he then civilised 
them (Fig. 167). He taught them to build houses and 
temples, showed them how-to cultivate the land and 
reap the produce ; imposed laws upon them, and re- 
vealed to them the principles of science, of the arts, and 



of writing. Other gods, resembling him, afterwards 
rose from the waves to complete his work ; it is said 
that, even now, the sea still conceals them, but 
occasionally at long intervals 
they manifest themselves, but no 
one living can boast of having 
seen them. Sennacherib, there- 
fore, sacrificed to the god of the 
Ocean, poured out a libation from 
a golden cup, in the sight of all 
the army, then threw the cup 
into the sea, with a golden model 
of the ship and the figure of a 
fish, also of gold. The gods 
soothed, the vessels unfurled 
their sails amidst cries of joy. 
The crews were composed of 
Tyrians and Sidonians, but also 
of Greeks from Cyprus, who 
rivalled the 1'hccnicians in skill 
and daring : they soon became 
accustomed to the tides, and con- 
ducted the fleet to Nagidu. The 
shore is dangerous, and the in- 
habitants were armed and wait- 
ing for them on the beach. Yet 
Sennacherib disembarked, took the place, and carried 
the fugitives back with him. No Assyrian monarch 
had ever attempted such an enterprise before him, and 
not one of his successors ever tried to rival it. Many 
of them have won greater victories and more of them 
than he did upon dry land ; but he is the only sove- 
reign who ever triumphed over the sea. 

The conquest of Gambul does not require either a 
fleet or foreign sailors, merely a large number of the 
flat-bottomed boats used by the natives in crossing the 
marshes. A large detachment of archers and spear- 
men, supported by a few chosen cavalry, was thrown 

Fig. 167.— Hea, the 
Fish god. 



into the land, they captured some heats, constructed 
others, and borrowed some from neighbouring tribes, 
that dared not refuse to lend them, and then the man- 
hunt commenced. Whilst one portion of the troops 
embarked and went up the canals, the others scattered 

r^c4e«-9>A»— * 

Fig. 168. — An encounter between the Assyrians and the inhabitants 

of the Marshes. 

fan- wise through the reeds, and slowly drove all their 
enemies before them. The unfortunate inhabitants of 
Gambul tried to defend themselves behind the widest 
barriers of water, and sometimes their pools became 
the theatre of real naval battles, which they usually 
lost (Fig. 168). Their boats, loaded with women and 



old men, were almost unmanageable, and fell an easy 
prey to the invader. As the Assyrians conquered the 
land, whole populations left their villages and took 
refuge in their thickest bushes, where they hoped to 
defy pursuit (Fig. 169). It was in vain: the cavalry 
followed them, famine drove them out; the resistance 
lasted for some time longer, but it ended in the usual 
way, by the death of the bravest and the captivity of 
the others. 

Here, as elsewhere, the Assyrians proceed with 
methodical cruelty. The chiefs are reserved for tor- 

I .TV ci £ <•«' — 

Fig. 169.— A family of the Chaldeans taking shelter in the Reeds. 

ture at the pleasure of the king. Some of the warriors 
taken in arms are executed on the spot, with blows 
from clubs ; some of them are reserved for incorpora- 
tion with the army. Sennacherib brought thirty 
thousand recruits of this kind back from his expedi- 
tion to Nagidu, and they fought as bravely for him 
in Armenia and Cilicia as they had done against him 
in Chaldea. Women, children, and artisans are led 
into slavery, and are sent to colonise some other 
country, far from their native land. Seeing the 
minute care with which these arrangements are 
carried out, one wonders how it is that a country is 
not utterly ruined after an Assyrian army has fallen 


upon it. Sometimes the whole population is taken at 
a single blow. The towns remain empty and the land 
uncultivated for several years. Gradually, however, 
a few fugitives who have escaped the catastrophe 
issue from their hiding-places, or leave the neigh- 
bouring cities where they have found shelter. Their 
first care is to rebuild their fallen walls and their 
houses ; they sow their fields, timidly at first, then 
with more courage as their numbers increase. A few 
years of quiet and relative peace, in which they try 
to avoid recalling themselves to the memory of the 
Assyrians, easily restore their prosperity ; the families 
multiply with great rapidity, and new generations 
arise as turbulent as their forefathers. If we reckon 
the men whom the people of Bit-Iakin and Gambul 
have lost in battle, those who have been massacred or 
carried into captivity, all who during the last century 
have died in exile of hunger and misery, it would seem 
that the country must have been a desert for many 
years, yet whenever a war breaks out Assyria finds 
it ready— the people may be conquered and weakened, 
but they cannot be exterminated. 

Whilst part of the Assyrian army searches the 
marshes, the bulk of the troops is fighting against the 
regular forces of Gambul. Dunanu does not venture 
into the open country; he waits to be attacked behind 
the walls of Sapibel, his capital. These are the usual 
tactics not of the Arameans of the Tigris only, but 
also of all the small princes that enter into conflict 
with Assyria. They have rarely sufficient troops at 
their disposal to risk a battle, or if their numbers are 
great they are too well aware of the inexperience of 
their generals and soldiers to hazard life and liberty 
upon the chance of a single blow. They prefer a 
guerilla warfare, in which their knowledge of the 
country gives them a great advantage ; they dispute 
every mountain pass, every river ford, and, if fortune 
be against them, they have still the resource of defend- 


ing themselves in their strong cities. They hope to 
exhaust the patience of their assailants by a long 
resistance ; and it has sometimes happened that a king 
of Assyria, after having besieged and taken two or 
three cities, has renounced the pursuit of the enterprise 
and has retired, taking his booty and his prisoners 
with him. Sometimes a revolution breaks out, or some 
barbarous tribe invades a province at the opposite ex- 
tremity of his empire. Reasons differ, but the result 
is the same : the Assyrians beat a retreat, and the 
prince whom they are besieging is freed from them 
for the time. This method, almost infallible hitherto 
when blockade and famine were the only means of 
reducing a fortified city, is not quite so certain now 
that machines have been invented which can force a 
breach in the most solid walls. 

Sapibel is built in a good position. It has always 
been difficult to take, but its strength is doubled since 
Esarhaddon, having taken it from the Prince Beli- 
kisha, repaired the walls, so that it should be one of 
Assyria's bulwarks against Elam. A deep canal, 
always full of water, serves as a moat to the north 
and west, marshes protect it towards the south, but the 
front opens upon a plain, and is not defended by any 
natural advantage. The engineers entrusted with its 
fortifications have therefore arranged their plans so as 
to rectify this deficiency. A single wall, bristling with 
towers made of unbaked bricks, runs the whole length 
of the river and marsh ; a double wall faces the plain. 
The two parts are of unequal height ; the external 
wall is only twelve yards high when the battlements 
commence, the second one is sixteen yards high, and 
the towers are placed about every four yards along its 
curtain. The whole building resembles the fortifica- 
tions of Dur-Sarginu, except in the dimensions and 
form of gates. The latter in Sapibel have not the 
castle projecting from the wall in front of them ; they 
open upon the plain, one at each end, and are direct, y 



exposed to blows from the outside. But the inner 
wall has only one gate, placed in the centre. Each of 
the three gates is flanked by two strong towers built 
very near each other. 

As soon as the frontier scouts signal the approach 
of the Assyrians, Dunanu makes all his arrangements 
in view of a long siege. He forces the inhabitants of 
the country districts to take refuge with him, with 
their corn, cattle ; and provisions of wine and oil ; he 
then carries off the still unripe fruits and crops, so that 
nothing should be left for the enemy. The men receive 

weapons and reinforce the 
regular garrison ; the 
women prepare the bread 
and food. The engineers 
heighten the towers by 
erecting a rough wall of 
large osier rounds upon a 
light framework hanging 
over the battlements (Fig. 
170). The soldiers them- 
selves take every precau- 
tion to guard the part of 
the ramparts confided to 
them, and to multiply their means of resistance. At 
intervals all round the walls they place heaps of stones 
and shingle fop the use of the slingers, and of large 
stones to be thrown down upon the enemy if they 
attack the foot of the rampart. Dunanu, his brother 
Samgunu, and his ally Palia, the grandson of Merodach 
Baladan, preside over the final preparations, and en- 
courage the men by their words. ' No doubt the enemy 
is powerful, but Sapibel is strong, and has already re- 
pulsed more than one attack ; she will repulse this one 
too, if her defenders show their usual courage. The 
gods, who have assisted them until now, will not desert 
them in this new peril. ' 

The Assyrian vanguard advances to the foot of the 

Fig 170.— The Towers with their 
extra Defences. 



walls, then, finding them well armed, it retires after 
shooting a few arrows. The captain of one of the 
gates, seeing them beat a retreat, imprudently pursues 
them. His troop is repulsed, and re-enters the town 
in confusion, leaving some ten men on the ground ; 
the captain himself is severely wounded, and falls with 
ten others into the hands of the enemy. In these 
cases the Assyrians never show quarter. The prisoners 
were taken in front of the gates from which they had 
started full of life one hour earlier ; there, under the 
eyes of their fellow-citizens who 
arm the ramparts, they are im- 
paled ; the posts with their living 
burdens are placed in a line, near 
enough for their friends to watch 
their agony, yet too far off for 
an arrow to reach the sufferers 
and end their tortures (Fig. 171). 
This terrible punishment is fre- 
quently inflicted by the Assyrians 
during a war. It is prompted in 
some degree by natural cruelty, 
but also by < alculation. It is a 
slow, painful death, for the vie- Fig. 171.— Prisoners impaled 
tims often linger two or three by the Assyrians, 

days in great agony ; and since 

new prisoners are daily added to their numbers, if the 
siege is long the posts at last stand like a forest be- 
tween the two armies. This lamentable spectacle often 
weakens the courage of the besieged, and leads to treason 
in the garrison ; but it produces no effect upon the 
defenders of Sapibel. The Assyrians, after examining 
the city on various sides, have realised that it will not 
yield without a regular siege, so they have decided to 
commence operations. 

Their first precaution is to erect upon the plain, 
just beyond range of the ramparts, an immense en- 
trenched camp, in which their whole army can dwell 



(Fig. 172). As usual it forms an almost perfect circle, 
surrounded by a brick wall, and flanked with towers. 

Fig. 172. — Entrenched Camp of the Assyrians. 

like a real city- Every soldier is something of a work- 
man by profession, and a few days enable them to 
finish the work. The interior is divided into quarters, 
where the tents are arranged in regular rows, like 

streets. One part is 
reserved for the wor- 
ship. Two standards 
mounted upon a 
chariot represent 
Assur, always pre- 
sent in the midst of 
his armies : here the 
priests offer daily worship with the same rites as in 
the sanctuaries of Nineveh. Whilst one part of the as- 
sailants are resting (Fig. 173) the others continue the 
siege works or scour the country c In this way they 

Fig. 173. — Three T>nts in an Assyrian 



command all the surrounding districts, and intercept all 
communications between Sapibel and the open country. 
From time to time a messenger tries to get through 
the investing lines, or swimming upon an inflated skin 
attempts to enter the city by the canal under cover of 
the night. If taken he is impaled, and if successful 
his news is so bad that it was not worth while risking 
his life to deliver it. The King of Babylon, alarmed 
by the defeat of Teumman, refuses to move ; the small 
states of Lower Chaldea follow 
the example of the King of 
Babylon, and no one will raise 
even a finger to help Gambul. 
Dunanu is left alone to bear 
the whole weight of the w T ar 
so lightly undertaken at the in- 
stigation of Elam. 

The Assyrians, certain that 
no assisting army is coming to 
disturb them, conduct the opera- 
tions of the siege with the regu- 
larity that characterises all their 
military organization. From the 
commencement of the siege they 
have established a girdle of 
slingers (Fig. 174) and archers 
round the city, who are charged 
to maintain against the besieged a perpetual conflict, 
and never to give them one moment's respite from 
morning till night, or, if possible, from night till 
morning. Each archer is accompanied by a spearman, 
who becomes his comrade, almost his second, for the re- 
mainder of the siege. They are both sheltered by a large 
shield of wicker-work, about six feet high, sometimes 
curved at the top and ended by a point, sometimes sur- 
mounted by a kind of awning at right angles with it. 
It is provided with a handle, placed rather high upon 
the inside, which enables it to be moved without too 

Fig. 174.— The Assyrian 



much trouble. The spearman carries the buckler as a 
kind of movable rampart, which protects him and his 

comrade ; when they are about 
sixty steps away from the wall 
he stops, plants it upon the 
ground, and the archer begins 
to shoot (Fig. 175). The archers 
from Gambul reply, concealing 
themselves behind the merlons 
of the curtain, or behind the 
round shields of the added wall. 
A contest of skill and vigilance 
then takes place, which never 
slackens : if an adversary ex- 
poses himself, one or two arrows 
are at once aimed at him. The 
Assyrians, although used to this 
style of warfare, sometimes 
commit an imprudence, and some men are lost every 
day. However, th >ir sappers, protected by this hail- 
storm of arrows, drag themselves to one of the gates 
and try to break it down with their axes, or to set 

Fig. 175.— The Archers be- 
hind their Bucklers. 

Fig. 176. — The Siege of a City : in the centre an Assyrian Soldier 
tries to fire the Gate with a Torch. 

fire to it with torches (Fig. 176). The massive 
panels, studded with bronze, resist these attempts, the 
guards from the neighbouring towers pour upon them 
projectiles, javelins, darts, blocks of stone, beams, and 
boiling water : the sappers are clothed in a kind of 
stuffed robe, which reaches from head to foot, but it is 


of no use, and they are soon forced to beat a retreat, 
leaving half their number upon the ground. They 
return at night with bundles of resinous wood and 
pitch, which they pile against the door, and then light ; 
torrents of water, thrown from above, put out the fire, 
and this second attempt ends like the first, in the death 
of several of their number and the retreat of the others. 
Repulsed on this side, the following night they attack 
the tower at the southern angle, and try to undermine 
it so that it may fall. They take with them similar 
shields to those used by the archers, then lean the 
curved end against the wall, and beneath this shelter, 
like a tortoise under its shell, they attack the founda- 
tions of the wall. From the top of the tower the 
besieged throw beams or blocks of stone upon them, 
which crush them, flaming tow, which sets fire to their 
cloaks, but nothing daunts the workers ; at last a small 
troop, led by Dunanu himself, secretly issues from the 
postern, and gliding along close under the wall sur- 
prises them in the darkness, kills some of them, puts 
the others to flight, then re-enters the city with the 
shields and some twenty prisoners. The latter are at 
once impaled, and on the following morning the 
Assyrians perceive the bodies of their comrades ex- 
posed upon the ramparts ; on either side it is a struggle 
in which no quarter is shown, and the besieged, feeling 
themselves condemned, avenge themselves beforehand 
for the tortures they will have to endure. But, after 
all, these are merely feigned attacks intended to weary 
the enemy. Whilst this desultory fighting is carried 
on at the outposts, the engineers in the camp are 
finishing the construction of the siege machines. The 
battering-ram in all its forms has been in use in many 
parts of the world for a long time : sometimes it is a 
simple iron-tipped beam, carried by twenty men — this 
is the most rudimentary engine used in besieging cities; 
then there is the mounted ram, in which the beam is 
suspended to a framework erected at the foot of the 


walls and propelled with cords ; lastly, there is the 
movable ram, which is the same as the preceding one, 
established upon four or six wheels, which enable it to 
be taken near the walls or withdrawn at pleasure. It 
is covered with a real carapace of fresh ox-skins or 
thick woollen stuff, rounded at the top so as to with- 
stand the shock of large projectiles, and it is sur- 
mounted by a whole or half cupola over the fastenings 
of the cables which support the beam. This primitive 
shelter is frequently transformed into a kind of movable 
fortress, and the dome becomes a tower, where archers 
and soldiers stand, harassing the besieged and pre- 
venting them from setting fire to the machine with 
their torches. 

The rams are placed in batteries at some distance 
from the rampart, so that some of them are directed 
upon a tower, others between two towers, at the weak 
points of the wall. The portion of ground which they 
are to cross is then levelled, and if in any places the 
soil is too soft to bear their weight, a regular paved 
way is made, over which they can pass safely. The 
besieged interfere with these preliminary works as 
much as they possibly can, but they cannot succeed in 
stopping them. The machines advance, each propelled 
by a hundred men. Two days are required to cross the 
short distance which separates them from the wall, but 
at last arrived within range, they commence work with 
activity, as though making up the time lost in their 
transport. At a given signal the men seize the ends 
of the ropes attached to the beam, and pull them all 
together. The first effort is always great, for the beam 
is heavy, the iron point of the lance or the square mass 
of metal with which it is provided being of considerable 
weight. Still, it begins to play, slowly at first, then 
with stronger oscillations, until the head strikes 
any obstacle opposed to it with great force. The wall 
trembles, a few bricks are detached or crushed (Fig. 
177), and the shocks, continuing with great regularity, 



soon open a breach in each of the six points of attack. 
The garrison, unable to prevent the battery from being 
mounted, now tries to paralyse the engine or to destroy 
it. Chains are lowered, with running knots or hooks, 
which seize the head of the ram and stop its move- 
ments. The Assyrians resist, and it becomes a trial of 
strength, which sometimes gives an advantage to the 


Fig. 177. — The Battering Rams opening the breach in the Wall. 

besieged (Fig. 178). They get possession of the beam, 
or break it with an enormous block of stone. Still the 
torches, the lighted tow, the burning pitch, and the 
pots of fire pour upon the roofings, yet the Assyrians 
continue the attack quite imperturbably ; when a ram is 
damaged, another beam is speedily fixed to it, and in a 
few moments the assault is recommenced. 

Squadrons of men serve in relays, the flights of 
arrows never cease, the miners sap the foot of the 
towers, so that no respite is given to the defenders to 
enable them to concentrate their attention upon one 
point. Whilst the struggle rages furiously round the 
rams, a hundred men, chosen for their courage, enter 



the marshes soon after nightfall, provided with long 
ladders. Several of them sink in the mud ; those who 
reach the wall plant the ladders against it, and finding 
them too short by some feet, yet manage, by climbing 
upon each other's shoulders, to reach the top. They 
kill the only sentinel on guard upon that side, seize the 
two adjacent towers, and loudly proclaim their success. 
The garrison, utterly disc uraged, gives way, in spite 
of the entreaties of their leaders ; a door is soon forced, 
and gives a free passage to the assailants, who spread 

Fig. 178. — Scenes from a Siege. To the right, the archers under the 
shield, and the movable ram, which the besieged endeavour to 
disarm. In the centre, two unarmed sappers open a mine ; to the 
left, two sappers in armour attack the foot of a wall. The river 

is in front. 


through the town and begin to pillage it. At day- 
break a few isolated groups of soldiers still resist ; 
by noon the struggle is over, and the fall of Sapibel 
completes the conquest of Gambul. 

The whole population is led captive into Assyria, 
and the city is destroyed. The houses are burnt, the 
walls thrown down so methodically that not one brick 
rests upon another ; the palm-trees and fruit-trees are 
then cut down (Fig. 179), the dykes which protected 
the fields are broken, and the rubbish taken from 
them is used to choke the canals. Assyria does not 


Fig. 179. — The Assyrians felling Trees in an Enemy's Country. 


acknowledge that other nations have a right to make 
war upon her. If they resist her will they are treated 
as rebellious and sacrilegious subjects for whom no 
punishment is too severe. The only moderation she 
uses in her treatment of them is dictated by the amount 
of strength she knows or supposes them to possess. 
She paused after the battle of Tulliz, and was content 
with dividing Elam into several kingdoms which paid 
homage to her; but she knew that a prolonged struggle 
might not end to her advantage, and she never abuses 
her success where she fears that abuse of it may entail 
revenge. She razes Sapibel to the ground, and destroys 
almost all the population of Gambul, because she 
knows it can be done with impunity. The nation is too 
small to raise an army by itself numerically strong 
enough to oppose the Assyrian forces. The anger of 
Assur and Ishtar is never imprudent ; they only give 
free vent to it at the expense of the weak, and the 
excesses in which Assyria indulges towards them amply 
compensates for the self-restraint which she is obliged 
to exercise from time to time towards the strong. 




Assurbanipal receives the ambassadors from Uratu — Nineveh and its 
palace — War is a commercial operation which enriches Assyria — 
The prisoners — The execution of the vanquished chiefs — Assyrian 
banquet and festivities — The festival in the harem — The head of 
Teumman — The song of triumph — Prophecy of Nahum, the 

Whilst these victories have been won for him, Assur- 
banipal has not been inactive in the palace of Arbela. 
He has banqueted, hunted, sacrificed to Ishtar even 
more often than his generals have marched, pillaged, 
and given battle. He has even received foreign em- 
bassies, to whom he has displayed his booty and paraded 
his success. Rousa, the king of Urartu, has sent his 
nobles to conclude a peace. To Assyria Urartu is no 
longer the formidable enemy that Tiglath-Pileser III. 
and Sargon had so much trouble in defeating. Its 
forces have been exhausted in the struggle, and some 
tribes from the west are contending with it for the 
cantons of the Euphrates, over which its authority has 
extended for many centuries. In order to concentrate 
all his strength against them, Kousa wishes to remain 
on good terms with his neighbour in Nineveh ; the 
friendship, or, at least, the neutrality, of Assyria is 
well worth a few presents and a few words of praise, 
even of submission. Assurbanipal received the am- 
bassadors in a public audience, and showed them the 
two Susian envoys, Umbadara and Nabudamiq, in 


chains. He wishes to give them a practical lesson, 
showing the danger of provoking his wrath, and, con- 
sequently, the advantages which foreign sovereigns 
will gain by retaining his favour. The Armenians 
retire, properly impressed, and after their departure 
Assurbanipal resumes his life of indolence and pleasure. 

Day by day, couriers arrive, bringing news of some 
fresh success, the arrival at Duril, the hasty retreat of 
the Elamites, the victory of Tulliz, the death of 
Teumman, the accession of Ummanigas and Tammaritu, 
the siege and capture of Sapibel, and the speedy return 
of the victors with their spoil. It is customary for 
kings returning from war to re-enter their capital in 
triumph. The prisoners head the procession, then 
comes the tribute paid by the conquered nations, and 
the festival ends by the torture of the chief leaders of 
the rebellion. Assurbanipal makes every arrangement 
for the ceremony ; when the day arrives, he places 
himself at the head of the victorious army, and leads 
the way into Nineveh. 

The capital of Assyria is not, like Dur-Sarginu, a 
city built all at once, upon an arranged plan. It has 
grown up in the course of years, through the slow 
increase of buildings and men, and still retains the 
disorderly appearance of ancient times. It rises upon 
the left bank of the Tigris, at its confluence with the 
Khosr, and in form it resembles an irregular trapeze, 
much longer than it is wide. The district which 
borders the river is protected by a single wall, and but 
one wall defends the northern side ; in front of it is a 
wide moat, filled by water from the Khosr. The 
southern quarters, which face the plain, and which have 
no natural protection, are sheltered from attack by a 
skilful arrangement of the ground. There is first a 
wall, similar to those on the other sides, and also pro- 
vided with a moat ; then, in front of the moat, stands 
a fortification shaped like a half moon, consisting of 
two thick walls and a second moat as wide as the first, 


The road from Arbela crosses these defences, and, 
passing through the city, leads to the artificial mound 
upon which the southern palace is built, the old resi- 
dence of the former kings, magnificently restored by 
Sennacherib. The hand of this great monarch has left 
many traces in Nineveh. He endowed it with aque- 
ducts to bring fresh, clear water from the neighbouring 
hills; he constructed brick quays by the sides of Tigris, 
and, finally, in a bend of the Khosr, he erected the 
finest of the Assyrian palaces, the one in which his son, 
Esarhaddon, and his grandson, Assurbanipal, have 
reigned after him. The latter has ornamented the 
wall with representations of his hunting exploits and 
victories ; he has also arranged a large library within 
it, which contains the works of ancient and modern 
scribes which he has collected. 

The plan of the Ninevite palaces is very similar to 
that of Sargon's palace at I)ur-Sarginu. They are 
reached by inclined paths, or by double staircases built 
in the flanks of the artificial mound which supports 
them. The facades have the same effect of fortresses 
covered with battlements and bordered with towers. 
The gates are decorated with masts, and open between 
two rows of winged bulls. The harem has separate 
apartments, which scarcely communicate with the main 
building, only a few narrow doors opening between 
them ; gardens are annexed to them, in which cypress 
and cedar-trees are blended with bowers of vines and 
gay beds of flowers. Lastly, the storied tower rises at 
an angle, as though it typified the protection of the 
gods extended over the city lying beneath it. The 
Assyrians do not care to vary the type and arrange- 
ment of their monuments. The plans received from 
their ancestors are considered suitable for themselves, 
and they faithfully adopt them, at least in all the chief 
lines. Yet in foreign lands they have seen master- 
pieces of the builders' art which a people less wedded 
to its own traditions would have been tempted to 



imitate. They have entered the palaces of the Hittite 
kings, and have borrowed their custom of building 
their walls in stone up to the top ; but they have 
stopped there, and the palaces in the Khita style, as 
they call them, are simple Chaldean edifices of stone 
instead of brick. They are acquainted with the temple 
of Iahveh at Jerusalem, and that of Melkarth at Tyre ; 
they have pillaged the immense structures of Ptah at 
Memphis, of Amen at Thebes, but it has never occurred 
to them to copy their style. Esarhaddon has taken 

from Egypt only the type 
of griffon crowned with 
and in the palace of A,s- 
surbanipal figures may be 
seen in which the body 
of the Egyptian lion is 
rather heavily blended 
with the wings and the 
human head of the an- 
cient bulls. With that 


Fig. 179*.— A Griffon in the 
Egyptian style. 

exception, the buildings of the present day are still 
constructed according to the rules established by the 
Chaldeans ; and the architects oi' Goudea, if they re- 
turned to this world, might claim for themselves the 
most recent work of modern architects. 

The soldiers of the different regiments march 
through the streets amidst the acclamations of the 
crowd, followed by the prisoners and the booty ; then 
the king advances upon his chariot, succeeded by more 
soldiers. The head of the procession is already in front 
of the prison, before the last lines of it have passed 
the gates, they are still in the suburbs. The rich booty 
excites general admiration. The Elamite chariots and 
all the material for war open the march, the horses of 
the Susian cavalry and the mules that belonged to the 
king are led past bridled and harnessed (Fig. 180) 
ready for service. They are of the same race as the 



Assyrian horses, but are easily distinguished from the 
Egyptian species ; this fact is confirmed by all the 
Ninevites who witnessed the triumph of Assurbanipal 

Fig. 180.— The Horses being led past. 

after his victories over Pharaoh Taharka and his son- 
in-law Urdamani. The head is small, but well-shaped, 
the nostrils widely opened, the eyes lively, the neck 

Fig. 181.— A Camel and his Drivers. 

and shoulders arched and fairly strong, the body is 
heavy, the legs delicate and muscular. A few camels 
taken at Gambul follow the horses (Fig. 181). These 
grotesque animals come from Arabia, where tbey are 
used to carry burdens and for crossing the desert. 


They have only one hump, whereas the camels of the 
East, which are sometimes seen in Nineveh as objects 
of curiosity, have two. The number of oxen and small 
animals has greatly diminished on the road between 
the frontiers of Elam and Gambul and the gates of the 
capital. The army and the prisoners have eaten some 
of them, a great many have died of fatigue or have 
fallen victims to the beasts of prey. Those which 
survive are still so numerous that only part of them 
are admitted into the procession ; the others are left 
outside the city in charge of the herdsmen, until they 
can be divided between the royal treasury and the 
soldiers who have assisted in the campaign. 

The beasts are succeeded by bands of slaves carrying 
the furniture and precious objects taken from the van- 
quished — statues of the gods in gold or silver, vases 
used for the sacrifices, tripods and armchairs in chiselled 
bronze, all the treasures of Dunanu, all the wealth of 
the inhabitants of Sapibel. The bars of gold and silver 
may be counted by thousands ; there are masses of tin, 
iron, and bronze, of linen and woollen garments. And 
this is the produce of a single expedition, the booty 
won by the pillage of a few provinces of Elam and the 
small land of Gambul. What is it, then, when a city 
like Tyre or a people like the Egyptians are spoiled ? 
It is easy now to understand the Assyrians' love of war, 
and why their kings organize all their strength with 
a view to conquest. It is not simply a brutal ardour 
or a disinterested search for glory, but something more 
positive — the desire to win profit and wealth. Other 
nations venture upon the ocean and trade with bar- 
barians beyond the seas ; others are agricultural ; others 
seek an honest means of winning fortune by industry 
and quiet commerce. The Assyrians make war. War 
feeds them, clothes them, exempts them from industry ; 
to them war replaces trade, or rather war is to them 
merely a commercial operation, in which they risk 
soldiers and horses in order to win everything else. 


They have fought in Chaldea, in Syria, in Elam, in 
Armenia, in Egypt, in Media; they will fight anywhere 
to fill their own coffers and the treasure-house of their 
prince with the wealth of the whole world. 

The prisoners, marching in close column, follow 
the men carrying the spoil. The first rows are com- 
posed of the male and female singers who belonged to 
Dunanu, and sang before him in the days of his great- 
ness, when he passed in solemn procession down the 
streets of Sapibel. The harp on the arm, the flute at 
the lips, they advance still playing, still singing the 
old hymns, but now under the superintendence of 
Assyrian soldiers and amidst the derisive applause of 
the crowd. The Elamites and the remnant of the 
peoples of Gambul follow them. The Assyrians have 
not, like the Egyptians, the habit of fastening their 
prisoners in awkward and painful attitudes, which 
inconvenience their movements and make them 
resemble grotesque marionettes. A few are hand- 
cuffed and have irons on their feet, but the majority 
are unchained. They advance without any distinction 
of rank and sex, the noble walking by the commoner, 
women with men, all classes merged in the same shame, 
in the same slavery. Their clothes, covered with mud 
and dirt, are merely shapeless, colourless rags, which 
scarcely conceal their forms. The children, still too 
young to understand their misfortune, watch with a 
mixture of fear and curiosity the multitude which 
hurries to see them pass. The young girls and women 
are in terror, wondering what their fate will be in the 
division of the spoil ; into what hands they will fall, 
into those of a brutal soldier, or of an officer of rank, in 
those household they will at least enjoy some of the 
abundance and luxury to which they are accustomed. 
Instances have been known of kings themselves falling 
in love with the captives they have led in triumph 
behind their chariot, and more than one foreigner has 
entered an Assyrian harem as a slave, afterwards to reign 


there as a queen . The freemen look anxious and gloomy. 
Those who are strong and skilful in warlike exercises 
hope to be soon noticed and incorporated with the 
army ; military slavery does not alarm them, and they 
would a hundred times rather carry arms for their 
conquerors than work in the fields or fulfil the menial 
offices exacted from domestic slaves. The men born 
in slavery are careless and almost gay. Service for 
service, it makes little difference to them whether it is 
at Nineveh or at Sapibel ; they do not change their 
position, merely their owners, and many of them do 
not even dissimulate their cruel joy in seeing the 
humiliation and fall of their former masters. 

One group particularly interests the Ninevites and 
rouses their acclamations ; it is formed of the principal 
chiefs taken prisoners at Tulliz and during the 
campaign at Gambul — Dunanu, his brother Sangunu, 
Palia, Nabuzalli, their wives and children. Dunanu 
wears the head of Teumman suspended round his neck. 
Perhaps he secretly envies the fate of his ally, who has 
at least died on the field of battle, and has nothing 
more to fear from the cruelty of man ; yet his carriage 
and features betray no sign of his thoughts. He walks 
proudly, looking neither to the right or left, his face 
unmoved, his head unbent, apparently neither seeing 
or hearing anything of the crowd that insults him, 
or of his wives, who weep and lament over him. 
The same morning, when the head of Teumman was 
placed upon his breast, the executioner pierced the lips 
or nose of his relations, passed a ring and cord through 
the hole, as though they were oxen, and gave the cords 
to soldiers, who lead the prisoners. Their conductors 
violently jerk at them from time to time, but so skilfully 
that, although they inflict acute pain, they do not tear 
one fragment of flesh. The courage of the unfor- 
tunate men never fails them : like their chief, they are 
unmoved during the long hours of the march into the 
city : would the}^ not have treated Assurbanipal and 


his leaders in precisely the same way, if fortune had 
smiled upon them and they had captured Nineveh ? 
All the nations of the world, the Egyptians themselves, 
although they have a reputation for clemency, delight 
in torturing their prisoners before executing them. 
Death itself, death by the sword or the club, by 
hanging, drowning, or any means which is rapid and 
almost painless, is not regarded as a real punishment : 
to dispatch a man with a single blow, so that he does 
not know he is dying, is a favour rarely granted. 
The rebel and the ordinary criminal have no right to so 
much indulgence ; they must suffer pain to the very end, 
and invoke death frequently before it releases them. 

By Assurbanipal's command, Umbadara and 
Nabodamiq have been placed upon the terrace of the 
palace, where they watch 
the march past with sor- 
row and rage. When 
they see the head of - ^ g£ 

Teumman upon Dunanu's _,. .,„_ . _ . 

t ,-, . r ! . Fig. 182. — A Prisoner being flayed 

neck, tneir despair can- a li ve< 

not be restrained. Teum- 
man, though cruel and faithless to his adversaries, 
was a good and generous master. Umbadara tears his 
beard and sobs aloud. Nabodamiq draws the dagger 
left in his belt and pierces his own heart. The head 
of Teumman is exposed over the great gate of Nineveh, 
and all who enter or go out look up and greet it with 
insults or curses. Dunanu is flayed alive (Fig. 182), 
then thrown into a furnace, which consumes him. 
Some are stoned to death, others have their eyes put 
out by the king himself : he forces them to kneel 
before him, raises their head by the ring passed 
through their lips, then puts out their eyes with the 
point of his javelin. Sangunu is blinded, then chained 
between two wild pigs at the entrance of one of the 
city gates, where he is exposed to the insults of the 
passers-by, and fed with anything their pity leads them 


to throw to him like a dog. Nabuzalli, Palia, and many 
others, after being tortured at Nineveh, are sent to 
Arbela to be sacrified to Tshtar and die before her. 
They are flayed alive, their bodies are cut into quarters, 
and the pieces are sent to the various provinces to show 
that the king knows how to punish rebels. Like all 
Assyrian triumphs, that of Assurbanipal ended in a 
long butchery. 

After the procession, the day is passed in a perfect 
frenzy of joy by the whole nation. It is customary 
for all the inhabitants of the city, slaves and freemen, 
to eat and drink at the king's expense during the 
festival ; this is a method of giving them a share of 
the booty. For seven days the palace gates are open to 
all comers. Many-coloured stuffs suspended over the 
walls by means of ropes have transformed the courts 
into immense banqueting-halls. The crowd is coming 
and going from morning till night ; the people instal 
themselves upon state beds or seats, and ask for what- 
ever they like ; the slaves have orders to give them 
anything they wish for, and to bring to each person 
whatever he desires as many times as he asks for it. 
Women and children are admitted to these festivals as 
well as men. The soldiers kept in barracks by their 
duty are not forgotten ; the king sends them the food 
;md wine they cannot fetch for themselves in so great 
profusion that ,they have nothing to regret. The loaves 
disappear by thousands, by thousands also the oxen, 
-keep, goats, and birds of all kinds are sacrificed to 
atisfy the public appetite. But what they eat is 
nothing to what they drink. The Assyrian is sober 
in ordinary life, but he does not know how to stop if 
he once allows himself any excess. Wines of Assyria 
and Chaldea, wines from Elam, wines from Syria and 
Phoenicia, wines from Egypt, amphorae and skins are 
emptied as soon as opened, without visibly quenching 
the universal thirst. After one or two days no brain 
is strong enough to resist it, and Nineveh presents the 



extraordinary spectacle of a whole city in different 
degrees of intoxication ; when the festival is over, 
several days are required before it resumes its usual 
aspect. This would be the time for a resolute enemy 
to suddenly attack it, when the disorder is at its height 
and the army, like the people, has lost all conscious- 
ness. Tradition relates that more than one powerful 
city has perished in this way during a festival, having 
scarcely any strength left for resistance. Whilst the 
people are becoming tipsy outside, Assurbanipal feasts 
the leading chiefs and the ministers of state within the 

Fig. 183.— The King's Guests at Table. 

palace. They are seated upon double chairs, two on 
each side of a small table, face to face (Fig. 183). 
The chairs are high, without any backs or footstool 
upon which the guests can rest either elbows or feet ; 
the honour of dining with the king must always be 
paid for by some fatigue. The tables are covered with 
fringed cloths, upon which the dishes are placed by 
the slaves. Unlike the common people, the nobles eat 
but little, so that few dishes of meat are set before them, 
but cakes and fruits of different kinds, grapes, dates, 
apples, pears, and figs are brought in continual relays 



by long lines of slaves (Figs. 184 and 185). On the 
other hand, they drink a great deal — with more refine- 
ment, perhaps, than the common people, but with 
equal avidity. Upon this occasion the king has 
distributed the most precious vases in his treasury, 
cups of gold and silver, the majority of them moulded 
or chased in the form of a lion's head. Many of them 
were formerly sacred vessels which the priests of 
vanquished nations used in their sacrifices ; some are 
from Babylon or Carchemish, some were taken from 

"T\wotic.<— *<"«>} . 

Fig. 184. — Slaves bringing Fruit. 

Tyre or Memphis, whilst others belonged to the 
temples at Samaria and Jerusalem. By using them 
for a profane occasion, the Assyrians insult the gods 
to whose service they belong, so that to the pleasure of 
drinking is added that of humiliating the foreign 
deities in the sight of Assur whom they had resisted. 

The wines, even the most delicate, are not drunk in 
their natural state ; they are mixed with aromatics and 
various drugs, which give them a delicious flavour and 
add tenfold to their strength. This operation is per- 


formed in the hall, under the eyes of the revellers. 


Fig. 185. — Slaves bringing Wine, Cakes, and Fruit. 

An eunuch standing before a table pounds in a stone 
mortar the intoxicating substances, which he moistens 

Fig. 186. — The Cup-bearers taking the Wine from the Large Bowl. 

from time to time with some essence. His comrades 
have poured the contents of the amphorae into immense 



bowls of chased silver, which reach to their chests. 
As soon as the perfumed paste is ready they put some 
of it into each bowl and carefully dissolve it. The 
cup-bearers bring the cups, draw out the wine, and 
serve the guests (Fig. 186). Even the sentinels at the 
doors receive their share, and, standing spear or club 
in hand, pledge each other as they mount guard 
(Fig. 187). The only persons who do not drink, or 

who drink very little, through 
the necessity of retaining their 
sobriety, are the eunuchs — who 
stand behind the guests to fan 
them — the servants, and the mu- 
sicians. No festival is complete 
without the presence of singers, 
and the king's musicians con- 
scientiously perform their finest 
melodies. Perhaps some one lis- 
tened to them at the beginning 
of the feast, but now that the 
Fig. 187.— The Sentinels, great silver bowls have been 
Cup in hand. filled and emptied several times, 

their music is literally wasted. 
They may sing out of tune or remain silent, just as 
they please, no one will listen or care. 

Assurbanipal presided over the first of these ban- 
quets ; he has deigned to drink the same wine which 
has been prepared for his nobles, then he retired into 
the harem, in order to pass the days of festival there. 
The women's house opens upon one of those gardens, 
planted with sycamores, cypresses, and poplars, in 
which the queens of Assyria, condemned by their rank 
to strict seclusion, gratify themselves by a semblance 
of the country ; fountains, supplied by machines which 
raise the waters of the Khosr to the top of the mound, 
flow beneath the trees. The queen, who also wishes to 
celebrate the Assyrian victories, has begged her hus- 
band to dine with her, and he has graciously accepted 



an invitation which made her tremble as she gave it. 
The festival couch is placed beneath the shade of a 
trellis, with its mattress and embroidered coverings ; a 
small table, loaded with golden dishes and cups, is placed 
near the head of the couch ; then opposite the table 
stands the high chair with a back and footstool, upon 
which the queens have the right to sit in the presence 
of their lord (Fig. 188). The king reclines upon the 
couch, accepts a cupful of perfumed wine, and, raising 
his eyes, sees facing him a deformed object of blackish 
tint hanging to the bough of a tree. It is the head of 

Fig. 188. — Assurbanipal drinking with the Queen in the Gardens of 
the Harem ; the head of Teumman is hanging to one of the 
branches of the second tree to the left. 

Teumman, which the queen has sent for from the gate 
of Nineveh, arid which she has hung in her garden, 
so that Assurbanipal should look at it during the 
festival and rejoice over his triumph. He gazes at it 
ironically, salutes it with his cup, looks again, and 
cannot satiate himself with the pleasure of gazing at, 
it ; behind him the musicians of the harem sing his 
praises, accompanying themselves with their harps. 

The court poet has placed the recital of the hero's 
life and exploits, from the hour of his birth until the 
day of his triumph, in his own mouth. * In the midst 
of joy and gaiety, I am come into the harem, into 
the splendid hall, the sanctuary of royalty, where 
Sennacherib, the father of the father of my father, was 


formerly son of a king, then king ; where Esarhaddon, 
my father, was born, grew up, and reigned as lord over 
Assyria ; where all the kings were born, and where 
their families have grown up, sons and daughters ; 
where I, at last — I, Assurbanipal — I was nourished in 
the wisdom of Nebo ; where I learnt the knowledge of 
all that has been written, through the medium of all 
the learned men ; where I learnt to shoot with the 
bow, to ride, to drive a chariot, to handle the reins. 
By the command of the great gods, whose name I have 
always invoked, whose praise I have always celebrated, 
who ordained me to exercise the dignity of king, I have 
devoted all my care to the enrichment of their temples. 
This is why they have overwhelmed me with pros- 
perity, and have placed mine enemies beneath my 
yoke. I am a strong warrior, beloved of Assur and 
Ishtar, the child of royalty. Since Assur, Sin the 
moon-god, Shamash the sun-god, Ramman, Bel, Nebo, 
Ishtar of Nineveh, Ishtar of Arbela, Adar, Nergal, and 
Nouskou have been gracious unto me, Ramman has 
always granted fertilising rains to me, Ilea has always 
opened the arcana of his waters; the wheat has grown 
to five cubits, and its ears of corn are always one cubit 
long; during my reign, abundance has overflowed; 
during all the years of my reign, the divine blessing 
has been poured out upon me like a heavy dew. The 
gods have raised me higher than any king ever ascended 
before me. Whilst Assur and Ishtar support me, who 
can prevail against me ? My power is everlastingly 
founded by their hands, the duration of my race is 
established ; they shall reign for many days, and for 
everlasting years/ 

At this time, Nahum, the Elkoshite, the prophet of 
Judah, had a vision relating to Nineveh, and the word 
of the Eternal came unto him. saying : i Woe to the 
bloody city ! it is all full of lies and rapine ; the prey 
departeth not ! The noise of the whip, and the noise 


of the raitling of wheels, and prancing horses and 
jumping chariots ; the horsemen charging, and the 
flashing sword and the glittering spear ; and a multi- 
tude of slain, and a great heap of carcases ; and there 
is no end of their corpses ; they stumble upon their 

' Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of 

Hosts And it shall come to pass that all they 

that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, 
"Nineveh is laid waste; who will bemoan her? Whence 
shall I seek comforters for thee ?" 

'Art thou better than No-amen, that was situate 
among the rivers, that had the waters round about her ; 
whose rampart was the sea, and her wall was of the 
sea? Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it 
was infinite ; Put and Lubim were thy helpers. Yet 
was she carried away, she went into captivity ; her 
young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of 
all the streets, and they cast lots for her honourable 
men, and all her great men were bound in chains. 

' Thou also shalt be drunken, thou shalt be hid ; 
thou also shalt seek a stronghold because of the enemy. 
All thy fortresses shall be like fig-trees with the first- 
ripe figs ; if they be shaken they fall into the mouth 
of the eater. Behold, thy people in the midst of thee 
are women ; the gates of thy land are set wide open 
unto thine enemies ; the fire hath devoured thy bars. 

'Draw thee water for the siege, strengthen thy 
fortresses ; go into the clay and tread the mortar, make 
strong the brick kiln. Then shall the fire devour thee, 
the sword shall cut thee off, it shall devour thee like 
the canker-worm. Make thyself many as the canker- 
worm, make thyself many as the locust. Thou hast 
multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven. 
The canker-worm spoileth, and flieth away. 

' Thy crowned are as the locusts, and thy marshals 
as the swarms of grasshoppers which camp in the 
hedges in the cold day ; but when the sun arise th they 


flee away, and their place is not known where they are. 
Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria ; thy worthies 
are at rest, thy people are scattered upon the mountains, 
and there is none to gather them. 

* There is no assuaging of thy hurt ; thy wound is 
grievous. All that hear the bruit of thee clap the 
hands over thee ; for upon whom hath not thy wicked- 
ness passed continually ? ' 



64 554 319